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Lakers-Thunder Game 5: Thunder all business in win over Lakers to advance to Conference Finals

May 22, 2012, 2:10 AM EDT

Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant AP

The future is now.

It can be said that the Thunder have done nothing more than advanced to the same position they reached last season before falling to another team from Texas in the Western Conference Finals. But this doesn’t feel that way. The Thunder exorcised their Mavericks demons in the first round, then took out the team that bounced them from the playoffs in 2010 in the semifinals, dropping the Lakers in five games with a 106-90 win in Oklahoma City. The ghosts have been defeated, the Spurs, who the Thunder have not faced in the playoffs but who have vexed them in the regular season and who stand as the old guard complete with OKC’s general manager coming from the Spurs tree, are all that stands in their way of the Finals. The Thunder are taking care of business. They took care of business in Dallas with a chance to close out. They took care of business in Oklahoma City with a chance to finish Kobe Bryant‘s season.

They’re still kids. But they’re kids who have come with business on their mind and in their hearts, and their business is winning.

In Game 5, it was a back and forth aware. The Thunder seemed to have all the momentum, getting out and running, running, running the ball down the Lakers’ throat. But the Lakers responded by slowing the game down, and behind Kobe Bryant’s valiant 42-point effort, the Lakers hung. They were scrapping. They had a lead, even, in the third. There was a chance they could grab this game, hold it this time, get a win and take it back to L.A.. Just one more win to hold on to the season, to get control back just a bit, and hope the Thunder’s inexperience would break under pressure.

Instead? The rain came.

At 5:27 left in the third, the Lakers had a four-point lead. From there the Thunder outscored the Lakers 40-20. Russell Westbrook, the maligned co-star who often took heat for shooting too much and taking shots away from Kevin Durant? He scored 18 in that stretch. Westbrook did it all. Steals for breakaways. Pull-up jumpers in the key, driving attacks at the rim. Relentless, smooth, a cold blooded killer. You might even say Kobe-like. Durant chipped in 9 points, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison both had two offensive rebounds, and the Thunder put the Lakers on lockdown. It was over. No comebacks, no collapses. Just the better team being the better team, and cruising to a victory in front of that raucous crowd.

The Lakers turn to an uncertain futuRE> The Thunder turn to the Spurs. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers were the iconic team of NBA destiny, always one step ahead in terms of talent and execution. Now they’re just another team left in the rubble by the Oklahoma City Thunder. No more growing pains. No more maturation. No more kid games. This is business.

Thunder Up.

  1. gunner1970 - May 22, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    Two of the best things in sports….The Lakers being eliminated and the Yankees failing.

    • go9ers - May 22, 2012 at 7:55 AM

      The third best thing is the Dallas Cowpies being eliminated.

  2. lanza2 - May 22, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    OKC will face problems with SA but im excited to see how these “kids” match up

  3. gopokes0714 - May 22, 2012 at 3:13 AM

    Thunder Up!

    The best thing in LA wasn’t Kobe Bryant, it was Phil Jackson. He is gone and so are the Lakers. Not just from the playoffs, but their identity has disappeared.

    This is not a slight on Kobe. He is an absolute super star.

  4. funktron2x - May 22, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    Bring on the WCF previews and angles!!!! :-) Spurs-Thunder has epic intrigue… Spurs on the unreal 18-0 run in which they are averaging double-digit margins, and Thunder having vanquished the only two teams to make the NBA Finals since the Spurs’ last title in ’07. Nobody really has a clue what might happen. There is no intense rivalry and playoff history. The only thing I think that stands out as the key to series is: Thunder must not waste possessions with turnovers and inefficient shots – they can’t win if they are out of control and freewheeling, IMO. Are they mature enough to handle the Spurs’ discipline, patience and relentlessness?? As a Spurs fan, I like our chances and how we match up. But them’s some explosive young stars on that side.

  5. lakerade - May 22, 2012 at 3:48 AM

    Congrats Thunder. Go Pacers.

  6. bleedgreen4life - May 22, 2012 at 3:56 AM

    “It was a back and forth aware” ????

    • florida727 - May 22, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      That’s southern language for “they kept running up and down the court and the lead kept changing hands”.

      • gopokes0714 - May 22, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        I think he is referring to the word aware, it should be affair

  7. 1historian - May 22, 2012 at 5:54 AM

    I never have been, am not now and never will be a fan of the Lakers or Kobe, and the thought of the Lakers’ celebrity fans, especially Jack Nicholson, being unhappy, does indeed make ME happy.

    That having been said I salute the Lakers and Kobe, because they fought to the end. All one has to do is mention his 1st name – ‘Kobe’ and people know whom you mean. He didn’t get a rep like that by being a quitter.

    • carolinakid - May 22, 2012 at 7:02 AM

      Very well said. I feel the same way about the Lakers and have ever since Shaq showed me how corrupt this league really is.
      And also I am in awe at how Kobe goes out night after night at his age and just dominates. Reminds me of my old idle MJ in many ways.

    • infectorman - May 22, 2012 at 7:40 AM

      KoME is SICK,
      but a single player does not a team make.
      Out with the old and in with the new…in the west anyway…

  8. patriots55 - May 22, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    Thunder up

  9. patriots55 - May 22, 2012 at 7:10 AM

    Thunder Up!

  10. florida727 - May 22, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    If you’re a Laker fan, and I’m not, your future might not be all that bright. This one statistical fact line sums up everything that’s wrong with the Lakers: Kobe, 42 points, ZERO assists.

    • mogogo1 - May 22, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      Oh, that’s not everything that’s wrong. Other stats from that same game: Sessions 1 of 6 shooting; Gasol 5 of 14; Bynum 4 of 10 to go along with 5 fouls. Bynum’s the real problem. He ain’t a high schooler any more. His game should lend itself to some consistency but you still have no idea what he’s going to provide from one game to the next.

      • soflasfinest - May 22, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        It’s hard for them to get into a rhythm when Kobe shoots 30 something shots and shoots the ball 10 consecutive trips down the court. What a “teammate”. Rolls eyes

  11. loungefly74 - May 22, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    Congrats to the Thunder. The better team is moving on. (as a Laker fan, I wanted to get that out of the way)

    well, i see Matt Moore is quick to anoint the Thunder as the greatest thing since sliced bread. he says “the future is now” well, that is great…3rd times the charm because i have been hearing that for 3 years now about the Thunder. Okay, this is their chance to show they may be ready for the big time IF they beat the Spurs. in the grand scheme of the league history, they still have not accomplished a whole lot..yet. yes, this may be the birth of a dynasty but i’m not putting them on the same level of the Spurs and Lakers till they get to the Finals and win a couple.

    Do i think the Thunder have a heck of a great future? absolutely…but don’t think the other powerhouse teams in the West (Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks, and up-n’-coming Clippers) are going to take it lying down.

    Again, congrats to the Thunder. they built a strong team and could possible contend for the next decade.

  12. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 22, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    I have been weeping in my parent’s basement all night. Kobe has fallen. I put my Kobe Bryant Action Figures back in their boxes, lay in my bed, close my eyes, and hope for a sleep that will never come. So sad is my life now.

    • 1historian - May 22, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      1) FUNNY

      2) there, there, my little one – everything’s gonna be alright

      (p.s. – thumbs up!)

    • loungefly74 - May 23, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      i’m bummed too Foul. i’ve been wearing my Kobe shoes proudly still though. we will rise again. here…make yourself feel better by watching this….

  13. abchome - May 22, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Bynum was right that close-out can be kind of easy…

  14. 11jlacy - May 22, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    OKC running with the big boyz SAY KD u the real deal my man nba need this.

  15. packhawk04 - May 22, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Gasol and bynum shouldve combined for double the field goal attempts kobe got. If those two shoot 30% and kobw shoots 60%, its still better for gasol and bynum to shoot more. Everyone knew this except kobe, who didnt like it that the only way to win was him shooting less. He wanted to prove that it wasnt the case. We see how that worked out.

  16. patsfiend - May 22, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Hey Bozo… where are you when your team loses? Oh, that’s right… in between sniffling your still spending your time hating on the Patriots / Celts / and Red Sox, even this morning, all over the Pats boards.

    To the other Lakers fans… don’t worry, you know you can get a couple pieces by trading one of the big men and stay right near the top in the West.

    To Bozo… F.U., you P.O.S. frontrunner.

  17. wicky888 - May 22, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    As good as Kobe is, he is a me-first ballhog with a giant ego. A real superstar takes the blame for a loss and says its a team game. I lost more respect for him for singling out Pau the other night.

  18. delius1967 - May 22, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Kobe better be happy with five rings, particular since two of them were absolute gifts from the refs and/or basketball gods. In 2000 they should have lost to Portland in Game 7; and then there was 2002, Game 6 against the Kings, the most infamous and badly refereed basketball game in playoff history. Actually even saying “badly refereed” sounds wrong, since it sounds like the refs simply made a lot of mistakes instead of deliberately handing the game to the Lakers — which was obvious to everyone outside LA (and quite a few people inside it).

    So, Kobe can’t get #6, dry your tears. I actually don’t have much against Kobe himself; even though he can be a selfish player, at least he is doing it for the right reasons. But Bynum is a thug, and Artest is an even bigger thug, and seeing them thwarted is pure gold.

  19. Chris Ross - May 22, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    It’s amazing what a difference 1 year will make. Last year the Dallas Mavericks took advantage of the inexperienced OKC and now the Thunder just trounced both them and the Lakers. Although they did it in only 9 games I guess you could say that both series could have been a lot closer but the Thunder’s growth over the past year is still unbelievable. They have made themselves into one of the very best teams in the NBA and it’s going to be a real interesting series with San Antonio. Youth vs. Experience. The ultimate matchup.

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