Skip to content

Lakers-Thunder Game 2: A Thunder magic trick, a Lakers disappearing act, and a change of the guard

May 17, 2012, 1:40 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One

In Game 1, everything went wrong for the Lakers, everything went right for the Thunder. Thunder won. In Game 2, for 46 minutes, at least some things went right for the Lakers, everything went wrong for the Thunder. The pace was slow. The defense was incredible for the Lakers. The Thunder weren’t hitting jumpers. A seven-point lead with two minutes. Hold onto the ball, hold onto the lead, gain control of the series, go back to L.A. having rattled the kids in blue.

And then.

Disaster.

77-75 OKC over L.A.

As the Thunder closed on a 9-0 run, you couldn’t help but think of how often the Lakers had done this exact thing to so many teams. They were the ones who made the key steals late. They were the ones who waited for the opponent to crack. They were the ones who made clutch plays. But now? Now it’s OKC. They won when they played flawless, they won when they played terribly. And now it’s 2-0 OKC.

For Oklahoma City, there are reasons to be concerned but a ton of reasons for confidence. When the shots didn’t fall, they won. They had just a 92 offensive efficiency Wednesday night, and yet got the win. They had an off night offensively for the second-best scoring machine in the league, and they walk away with a 2-0 lead. Defensively, they stepped up to the challenge. Had they bent more inside, the game could have broken open. Had Thabo Sefolosha not done such a marvelous job on Kobe Bryant, helping him to a 9-25 night, they may not have sustained. The Thunder defense kept them in it, the Thunder’s athletes took the momentum, the Lakers’ ineptitude opened the door, and Kevin Durant slammed it shut.

And for a fun twist on a narrative, instead of LeBron James failing in the clutch, it was Kobe Bryant with this line: 0-2, zero points, 1 turnover, one bad pass knocked out off of him, one bad miss, one airball, no final shot, and a whole lot of frustration.  Bryant was clearly livid both after Kevin Durant’s game winner and upon turning around to see Steve Blake taking a three-pointer for the win instead of, you know, him.

It’s not wise to get riled up about Blake, however. This is a shooter who hit five threes against the Denver Nuggets in Game 7. He was wide open. I mean, wide open. The pass had to be made, the shot had to be taken. It just didn’t fall. This is life in the NBA, the reality of clutch vs. the myth. Bryant, though, certainly struggled and his play down the stretch may have thrown a little dirt on the Lakers.

But this series is far from over. The Lakers proved Wednesday that they can throw some kinks in the chain of OKC’s mighty system, and headed back to L.A. they have to be hopeful a few more things will go their way. The question is whether they can force OKC into the same halfcourt troubles it had Wednesday night, or if they get busted open by the same team that torched them in Game 1.

The Lakers can get right back into this thing with a win on Friday. But it’s a back to back set against a younger, fresher, hungrier team that seems to have all the answers, that can cross the finish line even when they stumble. The Lakers? They’re just trying to get the dust out of their mouth.

The Lakers had answers for the Thunder until the end. Then the ghosts that the Lakers usually wreak on their opponents grabbed hold of L.A.. By the throat.

Closing note: Andrew Bynum laughed as he left the floor.

Latest Posts
  1. Supreme Court has a basketball court (photo)

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Highest Court in the Land

  2. Damian Lillard first in line as Team USA injury replacement

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT

    Dominican Republic v United States Getty Images

    Could Trail Blazers guard replace Derrick Rose in World Cup?

  3. Watch the World Cup hype video

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    See Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon and Serge Ibaka dance

  4. Rockets sign undrafted Tarik Black to partially guaranteed two-year contract

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Tarik Black, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Daniels Tarik Black, Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Daniels

    Black, who played at Kansas and Memphis, could be headed to Houston’s D-League affiliate

  5. David Griffin defends Cavaliers’ pursuit of John Calipari

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    David Griffin David Griffin

    Dan Gilbert, after throwing money at Kentucky coach, settled for management that landed LeBron James and Kevin Love this offseason

  6. Lakers’ physical therapist: Kobe Bryant has highest pain tolerance I’ve ever seen

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

    Judy Seto doesn’t even bother asking Kobe to rate his pain, because the question is pointless

  7. Dante Exum to come off the bench for Australia in World Cup

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT

    Dante Exum Dante Exum

    Jazz guard will play behind Matthew Dellavedova and Ryan Broekhoff

  8. Coach K had DeMarcus Cousins as USA’s backup big long before final cuts

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Dominican Republic v USA Getty Images

    Cousins was long safe and part of the USA rotation.

  9. Report: Kobe Bryant studying Paul Pierce on how to adapt game as he ages

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant

    If you’re trying to age your game gracefully, Pierce is a great model.

  10. Derrick Rose dismisses injury concern after blah showing against Slovenia

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

    Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto

    Rose will probably have to prove it while coming off the bench behind Kyrie Irving in World Cup

  11. World Cup preview: No Durant, no problem USA still one of two teams with legit shot to win gold

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Doesn’t matter who didn’t show up, the guys that did make Team USA one of two teams with a legit shot at gold.

  12. Report: Leandro Barbosa reaches deal with Warriors

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    For a third point guard signed for the league minimum, this is a nice pickup. Not thrilling, but nice.

  13. Lakers work out seven NBA veteran free agents beyond Michael Beasley

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, Daniel Orton, Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee try out

  14. Robbie Hummel to release hip-hop album. Wait. What?

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Robbie Hummel Robbie Hummel

    NBA news you definitely didn’t expect to read today

  15. Jerry Colangelo on James Harden leading Team USA: ‘He’s the one’

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    Puerto Rico v United States Getty Images

    Rockets guard continues to draw praise after offseason of petty comments

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4035)
  2. D. Rose (3421)
  3. K. Bryant (2748)
  4. L. James (2698)
  5. T. Young (2626)
  1. K. Irving (2538)
  2. A. Davis (2068)
  3. R. Allen (1989)
  4. G. Hayward (1903)
  5. S. Marion (1843)