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Lakers-Thunder Game 3: L.A. wins free throw contest by a lot, wins game by 3

May 19, 2012, 3:15 AM EST

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three

Forty-two free throws is a lot of free throw attempts. Forty-one free throws made is a lot of makes. The Lakers got one, made the other, and walked out of Staples with a win in Game 4, 99-96.

We can talk about a lot of things. The way that the Lakers attacked the Thunder defensively, once again doing damage to Russell Westbrook who has been unable to find his jumper since Game 1. We can talk about Pau Gasol giving more effort even if he wasn’t that assertive offensively. We can talk about Kobe Bryant hitting one clutch shot late (and missing two with a turnover), and all his free throws. We can talk about a Lakers defense that on two key plays forced the ball out of Kevin Druant’s hands and into Serge Ibaka‘s, and then forced a tough 30-foot three-pointer.

These were all part of it.

But really? It was the free throws, a 42-28 advantage for the Lakeshow.

Good, bad, ugly, they were what they were. You can argue that the league hates small markets and that the Lakers won because David Stern pushed some magical button. You’ll be an idiot, but you can say that. You can argue that the Lakers were more aggressive and earned those calls. But considering the Lakers drew six shooting fouls in the second half to create 27 free throws and that the Thunder drew six shooting fouls to create 14, it doesn’t really hold up. You can argue it was the Lakers’ size advantage, but the fact don’t bear that out, nor do they bear out that they were all bad fouls.

The officials lost control of this game early, during an early game scuffle between Russell Westbrook and, you guessed it, Metta World Peace, and spent the rest of it trying to gain control. And when that happens, ticky-tack perimeter fouls are called. And the Thunder were working for open shots, while the Lakers were driving to draw contact. It worked. Kobe Bryant absolutely worked over James Harden in drawing fouls on routine contact in a playoff game.

You can’t say the officials decided the game, but you can definitely look at them as the biggest weapon used.

The Lakers did get a number of things to go their way Friday night. Ramon Sessions finally contributed. Steve Blake hit two huge shots in the second half. Metta World Peace played terrific defense. Andrew Bynum was a defensive force, even if he went 0-6 in the second half from the field. They played well enough to win, when Kevin Durant‘s desperation three wouldn’t go down. And they hit 41 of 42 free throws, which is just nuts and takes a world of mental discipline.

So now what? Now we get Game 4 on a back to back. Will the Lakers have the energy to keep up with the young Thunder on a back to back? Will playing two games on the road wear on the Thunder? Will the disappointment of this game, one they could have had if they had just fouled slightly less, haunt OKC into a sluggish performance? The Lakers are only down 2-1 with a chance to tie the series at home. They looked dead in the water just hours ago. But it’s funny what a few dozen trips to the line will do for you.

All of a sudden, the Lakers are getting the breaks those great Lakers teams get. And they’re taking advantage of them. Game 4 is Saturday.

  1. mytthor - May 19, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    There was not a scuffle between MWP and Westbrook. MWP was playing basketball and Westbrook was jerking off, and they got a double tech.

  2. 69jaredallen69 - May 19, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    Has Stern sent those officials to Indy for Sundays game to try and help save the Heat too?

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 19, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      The refs were cheating for OKC all game and you’re sitting here saying this.

    • therealhtj - May 19, 2012 at 3:27 PM

      Bynum 2-13 and was hacked on the 2 he made as well. Kobe clearly hacked by Fish and Sefalosha on damn near every shot. If the refs called if every time, this game would still be going.

  3. raiderdave - May 19, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    Amen to mytthor’s comment. It’s disgusting how everyone is trying to use Ron Artest’s past to say that he kneed Westbrook in the head. Westbrook was flopping around like he was throwing a temper tantrum, and Artest went for the ball, as he has a right to do. It was quite the cop out to assess double technicals there, and as the announcers and all of the commentators attested to, Westbrook was the only one that deserved a technical.

    But in the end, I guess it was the safest way to reel in the situation in light if the past few matchups between these two teams.

  4. rosesacl - May 19, 2012 at 4:05 AM

    lakers in 6

  5. thevza - May 19, 2012 at 4:10 AM

    Why is any of this such a mystery? There were a few comments after Game 2 made by Kobe and Bynum, in which they said OKC was being overly-aggressive on defense, and they just made adjustments to capitalize on it. You noticed a lot more driving to hoop by Sessions, Bryant, and Bynum, because they knew they were likely to get hacked. And guess what, free throws slowed down the game and prevented OKC from running the ball on transition, though they still got their breakaway dunks in. Only MWP seemed to not get the memo, and he was hoisting up bad 3 point looks left and right, which led to the dreaded long rebound/fast break opportunities. On the defensive side of the ball, all L.A. could do was try to force Durant and Westbrook off their favorite spots. Didn’t work so well, but then again, the rest of the team outside of the Big 3 only scored like 20 points, which is really OKC’s biggest weakness. No doubt OKC will take this series, but good luck against San Antonio. The lack of depth on offense will be exposed bigtime for OKC- just ask Chris Paul how that’s working out for him so far…

    • truthfactory - May 19, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      The Lakers were being more aggressive, but as the article mentions, only 6 fouls were while they were shooting. There were so many ticky-tack toch fouls away from the ball called against the Thunder that would be fine if it were called the same on the other end.

      Perkins has a quick brash reaction to a foul and was immediately given a tech. In the 4th, Bryant threw a mini-tantrum after a foul, and the ref just ignored it.

      I dont mind them calling it a tight game, or a loose game, but its gotta be called the same on both teams. And last night, it clearly wasnt…

  6. lakerade - May 19, 2012 at 4:12 AM

    Westbrook swung his arm into the back of metta’s knee causing him to buckle.

    The lakers got a lot of calls they wouldn’t have gotten in okc, but ultimately they took advantage of the opportunities which is great progress for this team, gm 4 should be fun #oneatatime

  7. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 4:31 AM

    And some of those over zealous OKC champion-wannabe fans said it would be a sweep… haha… foot in mouth…

  8. labratre - May 19, 2012 at 4:56 AM

    And you can say what you want. The Lakers did play better last night, but COME ON! That from what I saw last night was highway robber, straight up. So, like I said, you can say what ever you would like. It was obvious, the Lakers needed help and got it. With all that help they still struggled to beat OKC. This series is over, the Lakers are done.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 6:03 AM

      Excuses, excuses… man up and face the fact that the Lakers won. There were also bad calls that went the Thunder’s favor like KD’s backcourt violation and a couple of non-calls against the LAkers as well.

      • Justin - May 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        All you have to go on in a backcourt violation? Blinded by your own homerism

      • Mr. Wright 212 - May 19, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        I have Harden FLOPPING all game and KD flopping on that strip also. These OKC fans/Laker haters claiming the Lakers got calls. WHERE??? You cannot hit a jump shooter on his hand on a follow through (HARDEN), and he was mauling Kobe in the post, which were legit calls. I’m still waiting for someone to actually cite something that HAPPENED and stop parroting what haters are claiming on Twitter.

      • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 5:45 PM

        @Justin Bieber: Apparently you have a reading disability and can’t read between the lines. I never said it was just that back court violation. Must I state each and every non-call to make my point? Gadz, ladyboy, it’s you who is blinded.

  9. 69jaredallen69 - May 19, 2012 at 5:01 AM

    The arrogance of you Laker jock sniffers are amazing…let me guess you are some of the idiot fans that keep chanting MVP when Kobe is shooting free throws. Last time I checked LeBron won that award

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 6:05 AM

      That MVP chant wasn’t for the season MVP. LeBron can have that. That MVP chant was for the Finals MVP. LOL!

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 6:14 AM

      The “arrogance” of the Lakers fans comes from the banners hanging on the Staples rafters. Tell me, what your team got? That lone dusty banner in Seattle from ’79? LOL! Pathetic.

      • berbes - May 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM

        it’s @sswipes like ^this guy^ who deserve the 2 hour 10 mile ride home from the game…if his mom gave him tickets, of course.

      • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 5:49 PM

        Yup, I agree with that 2 hour- 10 mile ride —- that’s what you call that limo ride with the babes in LA traffic…

      • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 5:58 PM

        But really now… you sir, ARE A HYPOCRITE. Isn’t winning an NBA Championship by your team something you wished for? Hey, how about having 16 of them with 5 in the last decade or so?

        When your team plays for that DREAM of getting a championship, the Lakers play for a CONTINUED LEGACY.

        Laker fans are “arrogant” (using your discombobulating term that you haters vomit out) because those banners make them so.

        Tell me, wouldn’t you be proud of your team had they got those banners instead?

        Exactly.

        It’s not just HYPOCRISY. It’s also SOUR-GRAPING.

    • avermaver - May 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      Like when the Yankees win the World Series there is hardly anything less inspiring to sports fans nationwide than the Lakers winning another championship, particularly with the churlish Bryant leading the team

  10. whiteqbs - May 19, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    I’m a Sixers fan but I must say that was one of the worst officiated games I’ve seen in awhile, totally lopsided on calls going to the Lakers, I feel bad for Harden because he had 3-4 bad calls called on him alone that weren’t even close to being fouls. One of the more clearly ruined games by the refs/NBA in recent memory. it’s clear they wanted to get the Lakers back into this series. This had the feel of the Lakers vs. Kings series that we later found out was fixed. Hopefully a fair game 4 is called for the fans and leagues sake.

  11. kavika6 - May 19, 2012 at 5:39 AM

    The calls on Harden in the first half, including a great block and a finger-touch after the shot, put him on the bench for the rest of the half. Right as Harden and OKC were making their run. 42 free-throws? Gimme a break. And was it a coincidence that Joey Crawford was there? He seems to be around a lot during contraversial games. Ask any Spurs fan.

    • raidmagic - May 19, 2012 at 8:39 AM

      That’s the damn truth. Everytime there is questionable officaiting Crawford is there.

    • jimeejohnson - May 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      Celtics fans are with you on that one, although I am not one of them. I read Boston.com, the Globe’s website, and there’s this one guy still crying about game 7 of the 2010 finals being “rigged”. Coincidentally, he thinks Obama’s a Muslim. When all else fails, resort to lies and innuendo. After all: “we don’t need no stinkin’ facts”: we got Fox!

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 19, 2012 at 3:16 PM

      What about how many calls HARDEN GOT for flopping or when Blake didn’t even touch him on a layup?

    • avermaver - May 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      after watching some vids of his worst moments on youtube I don’t understand why Crawford still has a job in the NBA

  12. davidly - May 19, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    You can’t say the officials decided the game, but you can definitely look at them as the biggest weapon used.

    Well, if you said either one of those things – and you happened to be part of an NBA team or coaching staff – it’d cost you no small amount of pocket change.

    And, anyway, if you said “the biggest weapon used” was a particular player’s performance, there’d be no shortage of sport’s analysts calling it “decisive”. So why not the “use” of an expected bias of officiating?

    It doesn’t take a magic button for the NBA regulatory department to play its role in following the league’s environmental form. It’s called a feedback loop. This phenomenon is the most decisive aspect of overall human behavior. It can lead to both positive and negative actions, simply based upon the ruling dynamic.

    All that said, if the Lakeshow is to continue to the conference finals, they’re gonna need something more like game 2 a couple of times before this series is over. That is, short of the slipups when the Thunder “gamble their way into the passing lanes”.

    The ruling dynamic does not include a 14 free throw advantage over the course of an entire series.

  13. mungman69 - May 19, 2012 at 5:56 AM

    Laker fans have to realize that they won’t get those calls on game 4.

  14. wicky888 - May 19, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    15 attempts in game 1, 14 attempts in game 2. 42 attempts in game 3. Hmmm…

  15. lemfax - May 19, 2012 at 6:51 AM

    Why you put fisher on Bryant in the 4th qtr???
    Why u did not stay Durant on Bryant in the 4th qtr???

    Nice game despite a lot of bad calls. Anyweiz they are just human and always human:(

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 7:01 AM

      Must be Sterns fault again. He might have influenced Brooks to do that… right, Thunder fans?

  16. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    Why whine on the disparity of free throws and act as if the team with the lesser free throws was cheated? The Lakers were playing more of the inside game coz that’s where their strength lies. Couple that with the Thunder going for the running game and shooting outside the paint. Sentido comon will tell you that the probability of getting fouls is higher when you do the inside game more than your opponent. Sheesh — whiners and whimps.

    • Justin - May 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Did you watch the game? Lakers got over the limit in the 4th quarter and his foul shots were coming on non existent calls. I had no problem with Bynum or Gasol’s FT count. It was Kobe’s fading jump shot shooting fouls. Harden had 3 calls during the game go against him that simply just didn’t happen all while guarding Kobe. That isn’t a bad call that is favoritism to Denver’s favorite rapist.

  17. abchome - May 19, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    Obviously the league doesn’t want this series end early. But you have to credit the Lakers for the unbelievable free throw shooting…

  18. jagwar73 - May 19, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Those refs are going to be tough to beat. Laker jerseys under those stripes?

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      Excuses. You just can’t stand the Lakers winning while your team frustratingly remains a doormat.

  19. 4thqtrsaint - May 19, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    I have no horse in this race, before all the slammin’ starts. I’m on the outside looking in… But OKC got hosed. Lakers fans can get upset with me here, but I like the Lakers. But they’re just not that good. They looked older, more sluggish, etc. Congrats on the free throws, but you can’t win a championship that way. What you saw last night was veterans using home court to their advantage. Very savvy, but a gimmick win and they know it.

    OKC has to learn from this. If they learn fast, they win tonight… If not, they win in 7.

    As for the arrogant Laker fans. Your past guarantees no future.

  20. gmitch23 - May 19, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    you laker fans have to be kidding me. a lot of the Fouls were away from the ball when james harden touched Kobe while in transition. mwp raped durant when he got the rebound from ibakas miss. don’t just say anything to justify a win just because you’re a fan

  21. mrhonorama - May 19, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    Two or three of the fouls called on Harden were ridiculous. That being said, once OKC had the late lead, he should have found a way to get Thabo in to check Bryant. Harden gamely tried to guard Kobe, but at that juncture of the game, either Thabo or Durant should have been checking him.

    I still think the Thunder is the better team, but this series could easily be 2-1 Lakers.

  22. hojo20 - May 19, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    The fix was definitely in.

  23. omniusprime - May 19, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    About time the refs started calling fouls on the Blunder instead of babying them with so many bogus foul calls. Stop cry babying Matt Moore about how the Lakers forced the refs to finally start calling fouls on the overly aggressive Blunder who have gotten away with bloody murder the first two games. Now that the Lakers know they can beat the Blunder they’ll come out to even the series tonight. Now that the Blunder lost their perfect playoff record they won’t be so confident. Go Kobe!!! Go Lakers!!!

    An impressive display of foul shooting by the Lakers, now they need to do it from the floor. They need to keep pounding the ball inside and pushing around the younger wimpy whippersnappers.

  24. packhawk04 - May 19, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    Questionable officiating, but credit the lakers for making 41 out of 42 free throws. Thats incredible.

  25. diabloryno - May 19, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    After every playoff game this season, you see the comments regarding officials. It’s so old. The refs will make mistakes as will the players, coaches, and all the fans. I don’t think anyone commenting on these boards can do a better job officiating a nba game. I don’t care if it’s your full time job or not.

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