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. Nets sign Hamady Ndiaye to compete for third-center job

    Sep 17, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    2012 Sacramento Kings Media Day 2012 Sacramento Kings Media Day

    Brooklyn needs someone behind Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee

  2. Nuggets J.J. Hickson suspended five games for violation of NBA drug policy

    Sep 17, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz Getty Images

    Five games is the standard marijuana suspension, and you have to test positive three separate times to earn it.

  3. Brandon Jennings says he added 25 pounds for this season

    Sep 17, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

    Brandon Jennings AP

    Jennings only shot 52 percent around the rim last year, maybe the muscle helps. Maybe.

  4. Chris Bosh was guest DJ on “Ellen”

    Sep 17, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh Chris Bosh

    Chris Bosh is taller than Ellen DeGeneres, which leads to much humor. I guess.

  5. Mike Miller knows in Cleveland his role will shrink. He’s good with that.

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:59 PM EDT

    Mike Miller Mike Miller

    His veteran, playoff-tested presence will be big on this team.

  6. Timberwolves to open camp with Andrew Wiggins vs. Zach LaVine dunk contest

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:19 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins AP

    This is all we want to see out of the Timberwolves anyway.

  7. Tim Hardaway Jr. focuses on defensive improvement for Knicks

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Tim Hardaway Jr AP

    There’s a lot of room for improvement, let’s just say.

  8. LeBron James on Kyrie Irving: “I believe Kyrie can be the best point guard in the league.”

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Day Fourteen Getty Images

    Kyrie is going to have to adjust to a different role on the Cavs, but if he does watch out.

  9. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Boston Celtics

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    Rajon Rondo looms over everything – on and off the court

  10. Tyler Zeller looking to jumpstart career, start in Boston this season

    Sep 17, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT

    Tyler Zeller Cavaliers AP

    He may not start but he will get plenty of run this season.

  11. Atlanta mayor says he has spoken to six potential buyers of Hawks

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Image (1) hawks_logo-thumb-250x134-11979-thumb-250x134-11981.gif for post 4050

    Dominique Wilkins is one, but you know the hedge fund guys are in, too.

  12. Dwight Howard’s driver’s license in Florida suspended, he racked up 10 red light violations in Orlando

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    He has 10 citations for running red lights. Impressive, I don’t care how many sports cars you own.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3447)
  2. L. James (2728)
  3. D. Ferry (2653)
  4. K. Irving (2546)
  5. J. Valanciunas (2453)
  1. K. Bryant (2401)
  2. P. George (2154)
  3. R. Rondo (1901)
  4. N. Batum (1868)
  5. R. Gay (1865)