NBA Playoffs 2012: OKC Thunder Push Lakers To Brink, Take 3-1 Series Lead

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 13 seconds left in the game to put the OKC Thunder ahead for good as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 103-100 in game 4 of their best of 7 series last night.

The Thunder rallied from 13 points down with just 8 minutes left to come back and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. They now lead this series 3-1 with game 5 taking place Monday night in Oklahoma City. 

KEVIN DURANT IS MR. CLUTCH

For the fourth time this postseason, Thunder forward Kevin Durant has hit a game-tying or game-winning shot to clinch a victory for Oklahoma City.

There was no doubt in my mind that Durant wouldn’t hit that shot. Kevin has made a reputation for himself around the league for being the guy on the Thunder to hit the big shot when the game is on the line and win basketball games in the final minutes. Maybe even more so than guys like Lebron James and even his counterpart on the Lakers Kobe Bryant.

Durant finished the game with a double-double of 31 points (10-18 shooting, 3-4 from three-point range, 8-10 from the free throw line) and a team-leading 13 rebounds. Not only did he have the game-winning three, but he went to the charity stripe 8 times in the fourth quarter and stole a terrible Pau Gasol pass that led to his winning shot.

Durant had himself an amazing game, but his teammate Russell Westbrook may have been a little bit better on this night. Westbrook led the Thunder with 37 points on 15 for 26 shooting and dished out 5 assists. He abused the Lakers point guards on offense and was extremely efficient with his jump shot. He did have a scare when he slipped on the Lakers court at the end of the first half and walked off in a great degree of pain, but he thankfully was able to return in the second half and continue his dominance over Los Angeles to help the Thunder make their comeback.

Making comebacks at the end of games appears to be a continuing trend now for the Thunder in these playoffs. They did it several times against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round and now they’re showing they can do it again against the Lakers. Despite being down 13 points with less than 8 minutes left in the game, Oklahoma City still persevered and believed in their minds that a win was still obtainable. They finished the fourth quarter on a 22-8 run and outscored the Lakers 32-20 in the games final 12 minutes.

Now the Thunder are just one victory away from eliminating the last 2 NBA Champions from this years postseason.

LAKERS FUMBLE IN FOURTH

There is a lot of blame to go around for the Los Angeles Lakers for this loss.

How about Kobe Bryant? He did finish with a strong stat line of 38 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, but he was terrible in the fourth shooting 2 for 10 from the field in the final quarter.

The Lakers had a 89-78 lead when Kobe checked back into the game with 8:18 left in regulation. Kobe then proceeded to go cold when his teammates needed him most and the team eventually lost the game because of it.

What about Pau Gasol? You can pinpoint his bad game to the pass he threw in the dying moments that was intercepted by Kevin Durant that eventually became the game-winning shot, but his performance before that wasn’t anything to be writing home about. Gasol finished with just 10 points on 10 field goal attempts and 5 rebounds in 39 minutes of action. He never asserted himself on offense and never became a factor in the paint for L.A.

Maybe we should just blame the entire team for being unable to hold off a Thunder fourth quarter run that eventually won the game. The Lakers had a win within arms reach and couldn’t seal the deal.

Now they find themselves in a hole that only a few teams have managed to crawl out of. Only 8 teams in NBA history have been able to win a series after being down 3 games to 1.

QUOTES OF THE GAME

”Pau has got to be more aggressive. He’s got to be aggressive, got to shoot the ball, drive to the basket, and he will next game. … (The turnover was) just a bad read on Pau’s part. It happens.” – Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

”We know no game is over. We’ve witnessed that before. We play hard every possession and live with the results, and we came out on top.” – Thunder forward Kevin Durant

TWEET OF THE GAME

FINAL THOUGHTS

- The NBA should be breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing that Russell Westbrook didn’t severely injure himself by slipping on the court at the end of the first half. Many believe that the switch from the Clippers court earlier in the day to the Lakers court later that evening allowed for moisture from the Staples Center hockey rink (The L.A Kings are currently using the arena for their postseason) to seep through and cause the court to be slippery. There are 3 Los Angeles based teams using the building for their playoff games. Scheduling conflicts where 2 teams are playing in town on the same night can’t be avoided. What can be improved however is the safety and condition of the court itself in hopes that major slips like that don’t occur again. If Westbrook had injured himself because of it, heads would have started to roll I can assure you of that.

NEXT GAME

Game 5– Monday May 21 | Time 9:30 | Lakers at Thunder | TNT

 

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

Topics: Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA Playoffs 2012, Oklahoma City Thunder

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