Recapping the Thunder's 95-94 loss to the L.A. Lakers

With a sold out crowd giving thanks with a standing ovation that lasted several minutes after the Thunder’s season came to an end with a 95-94 loss to the L.A. Lakers in Game 6, team co-captain Kevin Durant gathered his teammates near center court, looked each one of them in the eyes and reminded them to continue to work wherever they head this offseason.

“I just told them that next season starts now,” Durant said.

The Thunder’s 3-2 first-round playoff series loss to the defending league champions on Friday night at the Ford Center was just another part of the process for an organization that saw a 27-game turnaround and a playoff berth in a season that likely few outside these parts would have predicted. And the Thunder didn’t even blink an eye before the process would continue. Saturday brings exit interviews and an agenda for every player heading into the offseason.

But head coach Scott Brooks said his team will leave town knowing that it left everything on the floor.

“That’s all you can ask for, for your team to give everything they’ve got and they did that,” he said. “They came up short and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Coming into this series we knew we would have a chance if we left everything on the floor and we did that.”

It’s something the Thunder did time and again this season, so much so that Brooks could count on his hand how many games that maximum effort was not given.

The Thunder came close to pushing the Lakers to the brink, thanks to a second-half comeback that erased what was once a nine-point deficit to take a three-point lead.

But with the Thunder ahead by a point and both teams going scoreless for the final 2:10, the Lakers had the ball and the game in their hands. Kobe Bryant took Russell Westbrook to his sweet spot on the right wing, rose and took a shot that rimmed out, only to have seven-footer Pau Gasol there for the offensive board and put-back layup for the lead with five-tenths of a second remaining.

“It’s good that we got out of that alive tonight and not have to go to a Game 7,” Lakers center Andrew Bynum said.

After Russell Westbrook’s three-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer, the sold out crowd gave a collective moan before putting their Thunderstix and voices to use one final time this season, showering the Thunder with an ovation that grew and lasted until the final player left the floor.

Lakers head coach Phil Jackson called it “heartwarming.”

Brooks said it was emotional.

“All year long they’ve been with us and last year they were with us when we were, you could probably say that we weren’t deserving of the support of being 3-29,” he said. “But we fought, we got better. We didn’t know how well we were going to do this year but we challenged each other we would get better in a few areas and we did that.”

Added Durant: “The fans were phenomenal all season. It’s something we really appreciate. We’re so blessed and privileged to be a part of this league to be picked as some of the top players in the world but also to be a part of a great city like Oklahoma City. We’re so privileged and they come to cheer for us every game, not just the playoffs. It feels good to come back home and see these fans.”

  • The Thunder got back in this one with a 10-0 run just past the midway point of the fourth quarter, which was ignited with a fast break dunk by Jeff Green and capped with a Durant driving layup. It helped give Oklahoma City a 94-91 lead with 2:30 remaining, but was the final points it would score all night.
  • After shooting just 5-for-23 from the field, but 14-for-15 from the free-throw line for 26 points, Durant said he will not let this game linger in his mind as he heads into the offseason.
    “I leave it out there every game for my team no matter how bad I shot,” he said. “I always came out there and played hard and tried to do other things to help my team win so I can live with myself knowing I came out there and gave it my all every game. That’s all I can ask for, that’s all my teammates can ask for.”
    Brooks lauded Durant for his efforts on the defensive end, which included a career-high 19 rebounds in a Game 3 win.
    “I’m proud of how he played all year,” Brooks said. “Going into this season in order for us to be a team that’s going to compete every night and not be a sometimes basketball team Kevin needed to step up on the defensive end and he did that all series long and all season long.”
  • Center Nenad Krstic had his best offensive game of the series on Friday, finishing with 11 point and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes, a majority of his points coming in the paint.
  • The Thunder had its best ball control of the series in Game 6 with a series-low seven turnovers. Starting point guard Russell Westbrook led the way with 21 points, nine assists, five rebounds and zero turnovers.