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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Oklahoma City Thunder 21 27 12 17 77
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 21 27 12 12 75
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Thunder rally to edge Lakers 77-75 in Game 2

By JEFF LATZKE


Posted May 16 2012 9:38PM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 22 points and rattled in the go-ahead basket on a baseline runner with 18 seconds left, and the Oklahoma City Thunder scored the final nine points to rally for a 77-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night.

Oklahoma City trailed by seven with 2 minutes left before surging back with a series of defensive stops by its stars to take a 2-0 lead.

Game 3 is Friday night in Los Angeles.

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points apiece for the Lakers, who came up empty on their last six possessions after Bynum's hook shot made it 75-68 with 2:09 remaining.

After struggling throughout the second half, the Thunder suddenly came alive after Scott Brooks called timeout following Bynum's basket that gave Los Angeles its largest lead of the game.

James Harden drove for a layup before Durant used his height advantage to reach up and tip away a pass from Bryant, who he was guarding. Durant ran out for a right-handed dunk at the other end before Russell Westbrook forced another turnover by aggressively challenging an outlet pass to Bryant along the sideline.

Harden made the next stop, blocking Bryant's jumper on the next Lakers possession and getting a layup in transition off it to cut the deficit to one in the final minute.

Bryant couldn't connect again, this time on a 3-pointer, to give the Thunder the ball back with the chance to take the lead and Durant was able to make it happen.

Steve Blake missed a 3-pointer from the right side with about 5 seconds left after Metta World Peace couldn't get the ball to Bryant on the inbounds play. Durant was then fouled with 0.3 seconds left and made his first try before missing the second on purpose - failing to hit the backboard or rim for a violation.

The Lakers got a desperation try but World Peace's long pass for Bynum was intercepted by Harden.

Westbrook added 15 points for Oklahoma City, which matched its lowest scoring total of the season but still gutted out the win.

Historically, the loss makes a huge difference. Los Angeles is 29-12 when splitting the first two games of a seven-game series and has lost 17 of 19 when falling into a 2-0 hole. The Lakers' last comeback was in the 2004 West semifinals against San Antonio.

The Thunder have won all nine of their series after leading 2-0, dating back to the franchise's days in Seattle.

In a game that was nip-and-tuck throughout, the Lakers started inching away early in the fourth quarter while Westbrook was on the bench.

Bryant drilled a jumper from the left wing and Blake followed with a 3-pointer before World Peace hit one of two free throws for a 69-63 advantage with 7:27 remaining - the Lakers' largest lead to that point.

Westbrook returned then but only provided the briefest of sparks for the struggling Oklahoma City offense, and Bynum's second straight basket - on a left-handed hook shot at the left block - made it 75-68 with 2:09 to play.

Until that point, Oklahoma City had made only 7 of 27 shots in the second half while committing eight turnovers.

After getting ripped apart by the Thunder's pick-and-roll attack and giving up 119 points in Game 1, the Lakers made it an emphasis to put up more resistance in the rematch and it showed. Matt Barnes shuffled back and forth around three Nick Collison screens to contest Harden's jumper and preserve the Lakers' 22-21 lead after one quarter.

The Lakers' defense was at its best just after halftime as they got out of a 48-45 deficit by holding Oklahoma City scoreless for the first 4 minutes and allowing just two baskets in the first 8 minutes. But Los Angeles still couldn't create any sort of a cushion and Westbrook's wide-open 3-pointer from the left corner - after World Peace airballed a similar shot on the opposite end - had the Thunder back within 57-56 with 3:31 left in the third.

Notes: The NBA on Wednesday fined Devin Ebanks $25,000 for actions related to his Game 1 ejection and Bynum $15,000 for failing to speak to reporters Tuesday. Bynum, who has had recent disciplinary issues within the team, talked at the Lakers' morning shootaround Wednesday and called it a make up for skipping the previous day. "I think he's learning. Is he going to be a perfect citizen the rest of his career? I don't know," coach Mike Brown said. "He's bound to make mistakes. I think everybody makes mistakes." ... World Peace has said he supported Scott Brooks to become Sacramento's coach back in 2007, when Brooks had been an assistant under Eric Musselman. "Little does he know, if I would have got the job, I was going to ask for him to be traded," Brooks joked. He then called World Peace, or Ron Artest at the time, the third-best two-way player at the time behind Bryant and Kevin Garnett. ... Harden caught World Peace with an inadvertent elbow to the face in the first quarter.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday, May 16th at Chesapeake Energy Arena at 6:30PM. Catch all the action on TNT and 710ESPN.



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View More Photos
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Points Bynum/Bryant 20
Rebounds Bynum 11, 1 OFF 10 DEF
Assists Bryant 4
Steals Bryant 4
Blocks 3 tied 1
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

Opening Statement:
“Obviously a pretty good game. Both teams I thought brought it. I thought we did a great job throughout the game, just not the last two minutes. We came out the last two minutes and did not do a good job offensively and defensively, that was the difference in the ballgame. It is still a series, they did what they were supposed to do, they protected their home court, they got two wins, now we have to do the same but I feel like there is a lot of basketball left in our team.”

Thoughts about tonight’s defense:
“We were better, we made some adjustments. We talked about playing more physical and protecting one another and that is what our guys did and it gave us a chance to win on the road. Our guys fought, I have to give them credit for that.”

Talk about the mood in the locker room right now after the game:
“It is not good. I do not think anybody is happy in there. We felt like we let one slip away, and you give Oklahoma City credit they continued to fight. They didn’t get down, KD (Kevin Durant) hit a couple big shots. Give those guys (the Thunder) credit but right now it is a tough loss, but we will regroup and be ready to go on Friday.”

Talk about Kevin Durant’s play in the final minutes:
“He is a great player and that is what great players do. He had a great game, especially the last two minutes of the game. Defensively and offensively I thought he was huge for them. He had a big shot and big steal and a great presence down the stretch for them.”

Was the last play designed for Kobe?
“If you go back and watch, we set a flare screen for Kobe because Sefolosha gapped it last time, so we set a flare and Kobe was wide open on the back side but we told Metta [World Peace] where other guys will be just in case Kobe was not open and I think Metta saw Steve [Blake]. Steve was open and he passed it to him.”

Do you see the Thunder maturing?
“Yeah, they are a very good team. They have been together for quite awhile now. Scott Brooks has done a great job. He’s been with the team for four years now. Every year and every time they step on the floor they are going to get better. They are very good team.”




Andrew Bynum:

On the final two minutes:
“Man that was crazy. We’re better than Santa Claus, we like giving out gifts. We give out games, contracts and rings. We had three turnovers. We were up seven and [the Thunder] went on a nine-oh run.”

On Kobe missing the last shot and having turnovers down the stretch:
“It was tough. We played a perfect game, but I think that all of us could have made more shots. It’s tough.”




Metta World Peace:

On Kobe having turnovers down the stretch:
“You know, it happens, nothing’s perfect. Obviously we don’t like to turn the ball over late. If one person turns the ball over, we all turn the ball over.”




Kobe Bryant:

On the play with 5 seconds left – shot taken by Steve Blake:
“I don’t know what Metta {World Peace} saw. Once I turned around, I just saw the ball in the air, and at that point I tried to get in a good position to get a rebound.”

On the Thunder getting a win in the end:
“It’s a tough loss but the biggest thing for us was that we found some things out defensively that we feel we can do that’s effective. They did a great job. It was a great comeback by them in the last two minutes. They got themselves a gritty win. Now it’s up to us to go back home and defend our home court.”

Challenge of Thunder’s defense:
“Those last few minutes they just made gambles. They jumped into the passing lane, that’s not something we’re accustomed to seeing. It was just flat out risk defensively; jumping in the passing lane to get the ball. Durant did it and got a steal. Westbrook did it and caused a turnover. It was unconventional but we’ll make our adjustments for game three.”




Scott Brooks:

Opening statement:
“I thought we played great defense throughout the game. We knew going in to this game that they (Lakers) were going to play much harder and play better basketball. They did a good job of really forcing their style of play, but we can play multiple ways. I thought our guys did a good job of really grinding it out. We had some key steals at the end. I thought Perk (Kendrick Perkins) was really good. Going in to today, not really sure he was going to play tonight. But like I said yesterday, the guy just gives everything he has to his team. You can never discount the heart of a champion and he has the heart of a champion. I’m proud of him to come back and play. He is banged up. He will never tell you that. He understands that in NBA basketball, you have to put yourself out there and help your team win, and he did that tonight.”

With four minutes left, Kevin took over defensive duties on Kobe. Is that something you asked him to do or did he do that on his own? How do you think he did?
“Kevin (Durant) has really improved as a two-way player and I think that is what over the last three years has taken our team to a different level and it takes his game to a different level. Because when he plays the defense, I mean he is guarding the best player in basketball. That guy (Kobe Bryant), he does amazing things – night in, night out, year in, year out. I coached him in the All Star game. The guy has such a competitive spirit that you have to deal with every possession. We have Thabo (Sefolosha), we have James (Harden) and we have Kevin (Durant), and it takes a team to stop him. But Kevin has length, he has foot quickness, and he has the ability to do a good job contesting and challenging shots. I thought he did that tonight. And we did that time and time in the last three or four years, but tonight it wasn’t the game plan going in to it. But there was a point in the game when I thought Kobe was really starting to feel it and I thought Kevin’s length could bother him.”

What were the magical words that you told the team when you were down seven and they went on the 9-0 run to close out the game?
“I wish it was my magical words, but all I told them was ‘Guys we are down seven, you don’t have to play perfect basketball but we are going to be pretty close. You have to be solid, you have to really get focused on the defensive end and we have to challenge one guy – really challenge the shot and getting rebounds.’ Then we got some steals. We got some breaks. But we earned those breaks by playing good defense. I mean, they (Lakers) are a good team. This is what the series is going to be about: a one- or two-possession game going forward.”




Nick Collison:

This game compared to the previous game:
“The Lakers played better. They did a good job of controlling the tempo and not letting us run. It was a difficult, physical game. I’m proud of our guys and proud of how our team played. It was a big win for us.”

Would it have been a demoralizing loss?
“It’s not demoralizing. Playoffs are tough. We try to win each game. If you do, you try to win the next one. If you don’t, you still try to win the next one. That’s our mindset – we try to play for the next game. It’s good to get a win anytime during the playoffs. Now we’re going to try and win game three.”

On being down seven then making the comeback:
“We got stops and made plays on the other end. So, I think it’s a sign of us maturing a little bit. We’ve had stretches the last few years where we have given in during those situations but we were able to make plans tonight.”

How tough was the second half with the slower tempo?
“They defended us well. They didn’t’ give us anything easy. We struggled offensively. Defensively we got stops – they (Lakers) hit buckets but we’re happy with our defense. But, happy for the most part about keeping them off the board. But they’re a good team and they’re going to make it tough on us.”

How important was it to play to the Lakers style to get the win?
“Yeah we feel like we play an up-tempo game or a slow down, physical game. To be all the way in both ways is big. We’ll try to play better in game three.”

On the defense against Kobe Bryant:
“Like I said, I think we defended pretty well for the majority of the game. He had it going for a while because he’s a really good scorer obviously. But I thought we guarded him well. We have guys that are capable of defending the perimeter. Also, we have been executing our game plan so far this series.”




Kevin Durant:

Talk about your team’s fight down the stretch?
“Always fighting until the end, we were down by seven and playing tough. Both teams were grinding it out. Coach called a timeout and told us that we can do it and we made plays. James was big getting to the rim first and made a huge play to get us the ball back and I was able to get a steal and a layup. Just kept fighting. This team is tough on defense and on offense. We kept pressing and kept our composure.”

Talk about switching on Kobe with about 4 minutes left and what was going through your mind:
“Late in the 4th, it was just time. Coach told me to switch out on him and I just tried to use my length a little bit and play hard. He makes those tough shots and he missed some tonight. But he is good in the 4th that no matter who is guarding him he is going to try and take a shot. It’s all about playing hard.




Russell Westbrook:

Talk about your team’s defense:
“Keeping bodies on them and just did a great job of just touching them and contesting all of their shots and made them tough. We did a great job of rebounding and getting out on the breaks.”

How important was it to win both games at home:
“Very important, every game is different in the playoffs and tonight was definitely a different game, and like you said it was a grind out game and fortunately we came out with the win.”




Serge Ibaka:

What kind of mental toughness did it take when you guys were down 7 with 2 ½ minutes to go in the last quarter?
“Just defending Metta (World Peace). Kevin (Durant) did a great job last minute and so did Thabo (Sefolosha) on Kobe (Bryant).”

On defensive effort of Serge and Kendrick Perkin on Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol:
“It was hard, especially when me and Perk were in foul trouble. We just kept fighting and fighting. Also, the guards did a great job to come help us.”

On the game’s physicality in the last quarter:
“They’re (Lakers) a great team. They can’t give everything easy. They were trying to prepare hard. But a good thing we did was we were just focused on working and fighting our way, and we did it.”

On controlling the Lakers style of game play:
“After the first game, we tried to play hard. That’s why. This is the playoffs. Nothing’s easy.”

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Lakers - Thunder Preview

JEFF LATZKE


For a megastar on a tradition-rich franchise with 16 NBA championships, Kobe Bryant has no problem admitting how the Los Angeles Lakers' shortcomings have popped up repeatedly this season.

Bryant plopped down in a chair courtside at Chesapeake Energy Arena after the Lakers' practice Tuesday and talked shamelessly about their second blowout loss in five days - this one by 29 points - and what it will take to challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals.

''We're a team that doesn't get down when we get blown out. We've been blown out a bunch of times this season, blown out last series a couple times,'' Bryant said.

''We're used to dealing with that.''

Indeed, Los Angeles suffered five losses by at least 15 points during a shortened regular season and trailed by 28 in a Game 6 loss at Denver in the first round. Yet, the Lakers are still standing - even if they could be teetering on the brink of danger after a 119-90 loss at Oklahoma City on Monday night.

The storied franchise is 2-17 when losing the first two games of a best-of-seven series, and will try to avoid that sort of hole in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

''Everything's fixable. It's just about making adjustments. That's really what the postseason is,'' said Bryant, a five-time NBA champ.

''They came out, took us out back and whooped us. It's on us to make adjustments, to make changes and come back with a better effort - and we will.''

It all starts with providing some resistance to Oklahoma City's pick-and-roll game, which freed up All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for enough open jump shots that they combined to go 18 for 31 (58 percent) from the field.

''The one thing we have to do, we have to make sure that we give multiple efforts when we're defending the pick-and-roll,'' coach Mike Brown said. ''They do a great job of sprinting out to the ball screen and creating separation. ... When they're sprinting out, we've really got to get on our high horse, we've got to run with them and we've got to make sure that we affect the ball at the point of the screen as opposed for waiting for the ball to come to us.''

While the Lakers were tweaking their game plans to disrupt Oklahoma City's offense and also get their interior tandem of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol better shots in close, the Thunder were downplaying Game 1 as just one win. Yet, they were in a joking mood, too.

Coach Scott Brooks got a laugh out of suggesting that the Thunder - the NBA's most turnover-prone team in the regular season - needed to cut down on their four giveaways from Game 1, one off the NBA playoff record for fewest in a game. Brooks joined with his players in ridiculing Westbrook for wearing red glasses frames without any lenses and a polo shirt dotted with fish hooks to his postgame news conference.

''I've been knowing how to dress for a while,'' Westbrook insisted, reasoning that he sees better without the lenses in the glasses.

Brooks also compared Kendrick Perkins to the superheroes in the blockbuster ''Avengers'' movie but - on the serious side - said the starting center will be a game-time decision after aggravating a strained muscle in his right hip during Game 1.

''He is as tough as they come and he wants to play, but if he's not ready to play, we won't play him,'' Brooks said, adding that the Thunder would have held him out of Game 1 if they'd have known he was prone to re-injury.

Bryant credited Perkins and his frontcourt teammates for giving Durant and Westbrook room to do damage and said the Lakers must fight through their screens better.

Los Angeles traded away Derek Fisher this season and brought in Ramon Sessions to get 11 years younger at point guard, although Brown said the move wasn't aimed at defense. He suggested that Fisher - who's now a Thunder bench player - was a solid defender while Sessions is still learning to use his teammates on defense.

Either way, the Lakers must find a way to clamp down on the perimeter.

''There's a lot that concerns us from the first game,'' Bryant said. ''We did a lot of things wrong. A lot, a lot of things wrong.'' If their turnaround from the Game 6 blowout to win Game 7 in the opening round shows anything, though, it's that Los Angeles is also equipped with the resiliency to turn a series around.

''The Lakers are as competitive as any team in the league and Kobe is that guy that you always look at, that you say, 'This guy competes every possession,''' Brooks said. ''Every play, he wants to take your heart out.''

5/14/12
L OKC 119, LAL 90
5/12/12
W LAL 96, DEN 87
5/10/12
L DEN 113, LAL 96
5/08/12
L DEN 99, LAL 96
5/06/12
W LAL 92, DEN 88
Probable Starters
Lakers
#15 World Peace SF #35 Durant
#16 Gasol PF #9 Ibaka
#17 Bynum C #5 Perkins
#24 Bryant SG #2 Sefolosha
#7 Sessions PG #0 Westbrook
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Lakers Matt Barnes
(sprained right ankle) is probable.
Devin Ebanks
(middle & ring finger contusions, left hand) is probable.
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Eric Maynor
(torn right ACL is out.
Kendrick Perkins
(right hip muscle strain) is day-to-day.
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PLAYOFF SERIES
Game 1: 5/14 - LAL @ OKC L 119-90
Game 2: 5/16 - LAL @ OKC
Game 3: 5/18 - OKC @ LAL
Game 4: 5/19 - OKC @ LAL
* Game 5: 5/21 - LAL @ OKC
* Game 6: 5/23 - OKC @ LAL
* Game 7: 5/27 - LAL @ OKC
REGULAR SEASON
Game 1: 2/23- LAL @ OKC L 100-85
Game 2: 3/29- OKC @ LAL L 102-93
Game 3: 4/22 - OKC @ LAL W 114-106
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