Game Recap

7 Offensive rebounds for Serge Ibaka, who helped contribute to 16 Thunder second chance points

9 Blocked shots for the Thunder on the night, including four by Kendrick Perkins

10 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 10 ties

11  Steals for the Thunder on the night, including three by James Harden

23-7 Fast break points advantage for the Thunder on the night

31  Points for Kevin Durant tonight, on 12-for-23 shooting

38.6 Shooting percentage for the Lakers on the night, thanks to the Thunder’s defense

40-30 Points in the paint advantage for the Thunder, forcing the Lakers into 15-for-35 shooting in the paint

        
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
LOS ANGELES - It’s never easy to win on the road in the NBA Playoffs, regardless of how hard a team plays. The Thunder found that out on Friday night, dropping a nip-and-tuck game 99-96 at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series.

The Thunder held the Lakers to 38.6 percent shooting on the night, including 43 percent in the paint, but that physical, aggressive effort was just not quite enough for the Thunder to eke out a victory. Head Coach Scott Brooks, however, was proud of his guys and confident that his team will respond with another great effort in Game 4 on Saturday night.

“It was a heck of a game,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately we lost the game, but it was as physical as you want a game to be. Both teams displayed a lot of toughness. I’m proud of our guys’ effort, we just came up short, nothing to be ashamed of. We’ll come back tomorrow night with the same type of effort.”

The Lakers jumped out to an early 8-0 lead after the Thunder started the game 0-for-5 shooting, and eventually made it a 16-4 game at the 6:09 mark. Brooks’ squad withstood the initial Lakers surge and battled back to make it an eight point deficit at the end of the first quarter. It took a mature effort for the Thunder to take that first punch, then dole some back out of its own, including a 13-3 run in the third quarter.

“They started off well, which was expected,” forward Kevin Durant said. “We took their first hit and threw a few back. Going into the half, we were down three, and that was a good position. In the second half, we fought, they fought, we took the lead and they took the lead. It was a back-and-forth game. It’s a fun game to play in, but unfortunately, we didn’t come out on top.”

Despite falling short, the Thunder’s defensive effort was commended by Brooks, and both guard Russell Westbrook and Durant said the Thunder gave its all on the defensive end. Whether it was winning the points-in-the-paint battle, making 11 steals leading to 22 points off turnovers or blocking nine shots, the Thunder laid it all out on the line defensively.

“Tonight was a great defense effort --- rebounding, steals, blocked shots,” Westbrook said. “Everybody did everything. It was just one of those games where we just didn’t close it out. But we played hard and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

Part of that battle on the defensive end was credited to center Kendrick Perkins, who toughed it out all night despite continuing to recover from injury. Perkins forced Lakers center Andrew Bynum into a 2-for-13 shooting night, while also blocking four shots throughout the evening. Perkins, the anchor of the Thunder defense, did what his coach expects of him on a nightly basis.

“That’s what he does,” Brooks said. “Kendrick [Perkins], he’s a warrior, he plays hard every night. That’s how he practices, that’s how he plays. He wakes up angry. He wants to beat his opponent every time down the court. He’s a physical player and we need that. We need that toughness. He’s changed the dynamics of our team since we picked him up last season.”

Turning Point The turning point in this one came late in the fourth quarter, as the Thunder led 92-87 with 2:54 remaining. After a timeout, Pau Gasol hit two free throws, Kobe Bryant made a driving layup and then added four straight free throws to go with two free throws from Metta World Peace to give the Lakers a 97-94 lead with 12.9 seconds remaining. During that two-and-a-half minute stretch, Kevin Durant hit a jumper, but the Thunder committed four fouls and had a shot blocked. That 10-2 run turned the game and gave the Lakers a win.

Plays the box score won’t show, first half Thabo Sefolosha starts off the game by stripping Kobe Bryant and forcing him into a desperation miss at the end of the shot clock… Serge Ibaka flies back in transition to make a block… Dipsy do layup by Durant after going away from the screen and roll, then Kendrick Perkins tips a rebound to himself and Russell Westbrook hits a floater… Sefolosha hustles back on defense to knock the ball out of bounds… Tough interior defense from Perkins, who forces a miss… Perkins comes over and swats a Pau Gasol shot, then James Harden makes an athletic play to stop a fast break opportunity… Derek Fisher makes a steal by leaping into the passing lane, then Harden drives to the lane and earns two free throw attempts… Durant hustles to snare in a defensive board then Harden draws Kobe Bryant’s second foul… Sefolosha makes a deflection and Fisher picks up the loose ball and finishes with a layup… Durant stays with the play to tip a rebound to himself, then Harden drives to the bucket and hits a layup… Nick Collison makes a huge offensive board, then dishes to Fisher for a floater in the lane… Collison sets up Harden for a three pointer with a screen and flip of the ball… Harden’s quick hands cause a steal, then Westbrook fights for another steal before drawing a shooting foul… Great closeout by Westbrook to force a missed shot, then Collison boxes out strongly to draw a foul… Harden boxes out strongly on Gasol for a defensive board, then Nazr Mohammed tips an offensive board to Fisher, setting up a Collison jumper… Ibaka with a great move to the middle to send the ball to the corner for a Durant three-pointer… Ibaka comes over and impacts the shot, then he and Perkins battle for a defensive board… Westbrook hustles for an offensive board and finishes it up… Perkins sets a perfect screen then Durant slams one down in nasty fashion… Westbrook hustles to get the ball back and knocks in two free throws, then Ibaka makes a huge put back layup… Incredible block from behind by Sefolosha to set up a fast break that Westbrook converts into two free throws… Good drive and dish from Westbrook to Durant for a leaner, then Durant snags a loose ball and flies down court for two free throws…Mohammed breaks up an alley-oop attempt.

Plays the box score won’t show, second half Ibaka makes a strong offensive rebound to start the half, putting it back with a layup, then Ibaka knocks down a jumper from Westbrook… Great job of converging on Andrew Bynum by three Thunder players, then Ibaka pulls down the board… Another offensive board for Ibaka, then Durant hits a floater over Bynum down the right side… Perkins sets a fantastic screen to free up Durant for a jumper, then the Thunder defense rotates well to force a turnover… Incredible drive and dish from Durant to Sefolosha in the corner for a three, then Westbrook goes coast to coast for a layup… Incredible save by Sefolosha after a steal… Sefolosha pump fakes and dishes to Perkins for an elbow jumper, then Durant and Perkins combine to force a steal… Westbrook skies for a rebound and nails a midrange jumper after running the floor, then Perkins plays solid defense and blocks a Bynum shot… Durant somehow banks a runner while getting bumped, then Ibaka and Mohammed box out to free up Westbrook for a rebound… Durant hustles to block a Bryant shot, then he draws two foul shots… Fisher pressures Bryant to force a turnover to end the quarter… Collison and Mohammed battle on the defensive boards and Harden wrangles it in, then Harden draws a foul… Good, smart foul by Daequan Cook to prevent a sure dunk… Fisher tracks down a rebound, then Mohammed boxes out, leading to a Harden run-out to draw a foul… Unbelievable athleticism by Durant to snare an alley oop attempt and then flip in an acrobatic shot as he went to the ground… Durant’s length bothers Bryant into a miss then Harden pitches it ahead to Durant for a layup, then Harden makes a steal and nails a three pointer… Durant drives and misses a layup but Ibaka tips it in, then Westbrook comes down with it after a Perkins block… Durant makes a steal in the lane and finishes at the rim… Perkins plays tough defense and Durant comes down with the board… Ibaka and Perkins both hustle down low to get a defensive board, then Perkins goes to the free throw line and nails both… Westbrook uses quick hands to make a steal then slams one home in transition… Westbrook and Ibaka block Bynum from behind to save a basket… Durant takes a pass from Perkins and nails a jumper at the top of the key.