After attempting to pull away from the Oklahoma City Thunder since they grabbed the lead midway through the third quarter; the Los Angeles Lakers seemed confident when center Andrew Bynum hit a shot seven feet from the hoop giving them a 75-68 advantage with 2:08 left in the second game Western Conference semi-final series. A victory for the Lakers would tie the match-up at 1-1 with the action heading to Los Angeles for the next two contests. Those would be the last points the Lakers would put up on the scoreboard however, as Kevin Durant and James Harden ended the game outscoring their visitors 9-0, as the Thunder squeaked past Los Angeles Wednesday night 77-75.
It was an ugly win for the Northwest Division Champions, however it was a victory none the less and gives them a 2-0 edge in the best of seven series. Kevin Durant knocked down a game high 22 points while Russell Westbrook had 15 points and James Harden came off the bench to chip in 13 points for the night.
Kobe Bryant and Bynum each scored 20 points for Los Angeles while Pau Gasol notched a double-double in the contest; however it was not enough to keep their team from being down 2-0 in a second round series for the second year in a row. The Lakers were swept last year in this round by the eventual NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks and they are hoping to avoid the same fate against their current opponents.
Neither team was particularly sharp offensively in the game and it became apparent early in the opening period that this would be a low scoring affair. Bryant hit a short jumper with 42 seconds to play in the first and the Lakers would be on top 22-21 at the end of the period. Daequan Cook drove the lane putting the ball up and in and putting the Thunder ahead 31-24 with 8:27 remaining in the second. Metta World Peace drained a 25 foot trey with 5:58 in the period knotting up the score at 33-33. The two teams would trade the lead back and forth through the rest of the period until Serge Ibaka slammed the rock through the hole with 40 seconds in the second and the Thunder headed into the locker room at the half on top 48-45.
The two team would spend the entire third period playing neck and neck; with never more than a four point margin between them. Bryant hit a short jumper and Steve Blake hit a pair at the charity stripe with 19 seconds on the clock and the visitors would have the upper hand with the score 63-60 at the conclusion of the quarter. After exchanging the lead repeatedly in the early part of the fourth, the Lakers would hold the advantage for most of the period; until they suffered their internal power outage at the end of the game and the Thunder came and took the win.
The two teams will travel to Los Angeles for the next two games with game three at the Staples Center on Friday.