Skip to content

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

May 19, 2012, 3:15 AM EDT

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Fast Break notes: Baron Davis is honest about the draw of the NBA

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    The 2015 ESPYS - Arrivals Getty Images

    We have some Riley Curry news. You know you want to click now.

  2. Report: Bucks get Westbrook (not that one)

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Scrimmage Getty Images

    Charlie Westbrook reportedly signs with Bucks

  3. Report: Veteran forward Chuck Hayes agrees to deal with Clippers

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Getty Images

    The Clippers add more depth. It’s been a good offseason for Doc Rivers.

  4. Report: Suns have no intention to trade unhappy Markieff Morris

    Aug 31, 2015, 5:02 PM EDT

    Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris AP

    The Suns have no leverage now even if they wanted to move him, and apparently they don’t.

  5. Hassan Whiteside can touch the rim without jumping (photo)

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat Getty Images

    You don’t even need to pump up his sneakers

  6. Report: Second-rounder Sir’Dominic Pointer won’t sign with Cavaliers

    Aug 31, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    Cleveland can watch Pointer develop without having to pay him

  7. Report: Thunder sign Talib Zanna

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:33 PM EDT

    2015 NBA D League Showcase Getty Images

    Don’t expect him to make the regular-season roster this season

  8. Report: Nick Young actually inquired about playing for Australia

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT

    Nick Young, Iggy Azalea AP

    Could Lakers wing play in the 2016 Olympics?

  9. Report: Tristan Thompson won’t accept less than max from Cavaliers, his agent thinks Raptors will offer it next summer

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:43 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Thompson might leverage the max from Cleveland, but it probably shouldn’t be because of this Toronto threat

  10. Canada cuts Olivier Hanlan, finalizes roster FIBA Americas with nine NBA players

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph AP

    By dropping an NBA draft pick, Canadians show how far they’ve come

  11. Nigeria beats Angola to win AfroBasket, qualify for Rio Olympics

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:16 PM EDT

    Olympics Day 10 - Basketball Getty Images

    Al-Farouq Aminu is headed back to the Olympics.

  12. Sneaky good summer move: Spurs trade for Ray McCallum

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    We’ll all look back at the McCallum trade and say “it’s the Spurs doing Spurs things again.”

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2778)
  2. K. Irving (2198)
  3. A. Davis (1821)
  4. L. James (1814)
  5. K. Bryant (1749)