LOS ANGELES, Cali.—The Thunder came up with the best response to a loss possible…rallying from 13 points down to shock the Los Angeles Lakers 103-100 Saturday night here at the Staples Center.
It was the top combo of all-star talent in the entire NBA that did it, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Durant came up with the game’s biggest plays, on the same possession.
After Westbrook slipped on the court with :47 left in a 98-98 game (could it have been because the NHL’s L.A. Kings have a playoff game Sunday and there was ICE underneath the floor?), Durant stole a pass from the Lakers Pau Gasol with :33 left to play.
On the other end, Durant measured the Lakers Ron Artest and drilled the deep “3″ with :13.7 left and a 101-98 lead the Lakers never recovered from.
Durant’s defense on Kobe Bryant was also monstrous in the final quarter.
Bryant led the Lakers with 38 points, but it took him 28 shots to reach that mark including a dismal 1-8 shooting in the final period when Bryant was guarded closely by Durant down the stretch.
When Kobe missed the potential tying “3″ pointer with :07.3 left, the Thunder had their crucial road win to move to within a single victory of advancing to the NBA’s Western Conference finals for a second straight season.
Westbrook was sensational after a scary moment as the first half ended. Russell slipped (again, due to the ICE?) across the court from the Lakers bench.
He told us afterwards he did the “splits” and hurt his left hip in the process.
He laid on the court for several minutes while the entire Thunder team and head coach Scott Brooks surrounded him.
Eventually, he got up and limped to the locker room and not only returned for the final half, he dominated.
Westbrook ended up with 37 points, 5 assists and only 1 turnover for the second straight game. Durant added 31 for the second straight game, including a big 13 rebounds and the Thunder nullified Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Gasol in the second half after being overwhelmed by the LA post players in the opening pair of quarters.
After the game Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said he was still trying to figure out “how that happened”, getting the win in such dramatic fashion, but Brooks credited the fight in his team, the great team defense down the stretch and the play of the dynamic duo of Durant and Westbrook.
The Thunder players echoed the coach’s comments and talked about looking forward to returning home to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for Monday’s game #5 at 8:45pm Oklahoma time…with a chance to advance.
We hope you’ll continue to watch our coverage of the Thunder in the playoffs on Oklahoma’s NewsChannel 4 and right here at kfor.com.