Down nearly 20 points, the Los Angeles Lakers (41-24) mounted an incredible comeback against the Oklahoma City Thunder (46-18) to win 114-106 in double-overtime.
In a game that featured controversy, fireworks, and unlikely heroes, the Lakers somehow stayed calm against all the obstacles and persevered yesterday afternoon.
The Thunder jumped out to a 26-20 lead after the first 12 minutes of play. Kobe Bryant couldn’t get his shot to go down in the period, but Metta World Peace helped keep the Lakers in the game with six points and three rebounds.
The second quarter was practically even, as the Thunder held a 52-47 advantage at halftime. However, the fireworks that ensued in the quarter changed the rest of the game.
Metta World Peace–who had six points in the quarter–threw down his third dunk of the night during the second. Fired up after his dunk, World Peace started beating on his chest in celebration. However, James Harden backed into him, possibly trying to impede World Peace’s transition to the other side of the floor.
That’s when World Peace turned back into Ron Artest, and while still in celebration, cocked forward his left arm and threw back a hard elbow to the side of Harden’s head, sending him to the floor. World Peace was subsequently ejected, and Harden was out for the rest of the game (we’ll have more on this in “The Breakdown”).
Even after halftime, the main topic of discussion was the incident, and it appeared to take the air out of Staples Center.
The Thunder came out strong, and outscored the Lakers 30-14 in the period, leaping out to a 77-61 edge after three quarters of play.
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Then, something strange transpired in the fourth quarter. Mike Brown opted to go with a lineup of Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Devin Ebanks, and seldom-used forward Jordan Hill. Hill had been playing well in the third quarter, and continued to play well in the fourth as did Devin Ebanks, who scored six points in the period. Pau Gasol added seven points of his own.
Steve Blake had two huge three-pointers in the quarter, and with time becoming an issue, Kobe Bryant converted on two incredible three-point baskets of his own (one being a running, one-footed three-pointer with just one second on the shot clock). This helped the Lakers even up the game and send the game into overtime tied at 91.
The first overtime was a battle, and both teams remained equal with a score of 97-97.
Then, in the second overtime, the Black Mamba went to work. The Lakers collectively and individually played solid defense in the period, and Bryant continued his onslaught of difficult and demoralizing shots. The Thunder absolutely had no answer for Kobe, who led his team to a 114-106 victory.
Kobe Bryant led the way for the Lakers with 26 points, eight assists, and six rebounds in 49 minutes of play. Also logging 49 minutes, Pau Gasol nearly had a triple-double with 20 points, 14 rebounds (six offensive), nine assists, two steals, and one block. Seldom-used forward Jordan Hill had a breakout game with 14 points, 15 rebounds (six offensive), and three blocks. Steve Blake provided clutch shooting and finished with 13 points (on 4-9 shooting, 3-5 from three), five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Metta World Peace was having a great game before his ejection and finished with 12 points, five rebounds (three offensive), and three steals in just 18 minutes of play. Andrew Bynum added 10 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks in just 29 minutes of play. Devin Ebanks (five rebounds, two steals) and Ramon Sessions (three rebounds, three assists) finished with eight points apiece. Matt Barnes, who had been playing extremely well as of late, scored just three points and grabbed six rebounds in just 17 minutes of play.
As for the Thunder, Kevin Durant led the way with 35 points (on 11-34 shooting), eight rebounds, and three assists. Serge Ibaka added 18 points and 14 rebounds while Russell Westbrook (10 assists, four rebounds) and James Harden (three assists) scored 14 points apiece. Thabo Sefolosha (10 rebounds, three steals) and Nick Collison (six rebounds, two assists) added six points each. Former Laker Derek Fisher scored five points and dished out two assists in just 13 minutes of play while Kendrick Perkins had 10 rebounds, four points, two blocks, and two assists.
Now, let’s break down the victory.
Next Page: The Breakdown