Skip to content

Kobe says controlling the pace will be key for Lakers in Game 4 vs. Thunder

May 19, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT

kobe-game-3-thunder

The Lakers’ Game 3 win over the Thunder on Friday was gritty, hard-fought, and earned largely at the free throw line. With the game slowed and the clock stopped is where L.A. did most of its damage offensively, scoring 41 of the team’s 99 points from the foul line on 42 attempts.

The free throw percentage of 97.6 was the second best in NBA playoff history, with a minimum of 30 attempts. It’s unlikely that the Lakers will get that many tries again in Game 4, but if nothing else, they’ll try to recreate the offensive stylings that helped get them to that point in Game 3.

“It’s two games in a row now where we’ve controlled the tempo,” said Kobe Bryant after Game 3. “We’ve done a pretty good job controlling the pace of the game being physical. But as you see, even tonight there were stretches where, (with) their explosiveness, they just go on runs quickly. In 45 seconds to a minute they can go on a 7-0, 8-0 run. So we’ve got to be careful with the ball and keep them out of transition.”

Bryant wasn’t kidding about the Thunder’s explosiveness. One such run came in a 36-second span midway through the fourth quarter, where OKC was able to score seven straight points in the blink of an eye. He was also dead-on about the turnovers.

The Lakers played excellent halfcourt defense for the second straight game, and really only struggled for extended periods when they were careless with the ball and allowed the Thunder to get out in transition for easier looks.

It truly is all about pace and tempo for the Lakers in this series, especially with such a short turnaround time between Games 3 and 4. The first back-to-back set of these playoffs will have these teams back at Staples Center for tip-off less than 24 hours after Game 3 was in the books.

That would appear to favor the youth and energy of this Thunder team, and Bryant knows if his team doesn’t play with the same discipline it has in the past two games, the Lakers will be in serious trouble.

“No, not if it’s an up-and-down game, no. We don’t have a shot,” Bryant said, when asked if the Lakers could play with a more energetic Thunder team in Game 4. “We could both be extremely well-rested and not have a shot. Just slow the game down, play our pace and play our tempo, and we’ll be fine. Whether it’s back-to-back or three nights in a row, it doesn’t matter. If we control the pace, we’ll give ourselves a great opportunity.”

The opportunity will indeed be there for the Lakers to even the series if they can execute their plan to perfection. They’ll need to take full advantage of it, too. Because as exhilarating as beating the Thunder to get back into the series was on Friday, all will be lost if they can’t repeat the performance on Saturday, and the team has to head back to Oklahoma City on the wrong end of a three-games-to-one series deficit.

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 (3418)
  2. L. James (2694)
  3. D. Ferry (2637)
  4. K. Irving (2521)
  5. J. Valanciunas (2436)
  1. K. Bryant (2373)
  2. P. George (2144)
  3. R. Rondo (1866)
  4. N. Batum (1856)
  5. R. Gay (1852)