May 14, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reacts to action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half in game one of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Kobe Bryant leads OKC past his Los Angeles Lakers down the stretch, OKC leads series 2-0

You live by Kobe, you die by Kobe.

This has been the Lakers’ mantra since Shaquille O’Neal left in 2004. Kobe Bryant has bailed the Lakers out of some serious messes, and for that we’re grateful.

But in Game 2 vs. the Thunder? With the Lakers leading by seven points with two minutes to go in the fourth? With the bigs being as good as they can be, and the team scratching and clawing away?

Kobe Bryant, our hero, threw the game away, and we died.

Turnovers, contested jumpers. You name it. Murphy’s Law applied to Kobe Bryant tonight: Everything that could have gone wrong, did.

The second half was something to gawk at, for these Lakers. The defense stifled an offense that looked damn near invulnerable last game, with OKC struggling to score nearly the entire game, but namely in the first half. When they did go on a flurry, it was because of Kobe’s terrible decision-making down the stretch.

It’s hard to point the loss at one guy, and you could argue that Steve Blake was open for a go-ahead three-pointer with just a few ticks left on the game clock. You can point your finger at the poor transition defense down the stretch for L.A. (although I’ll contest that).

But in the words of Lee Corso, f**k it.

Because, believe it or not, we had this game. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol did what they had to do against a tough, tough defensive big-man rotation. The entire team played their asses off.

We can talk about how the Lakers can respond, and how they’ll be back in Staples this weekend to tie the series. But let’s not be blind: This loss hurt L.A., and the confidence level has to be about as low as it gets.

Perhaps I’m being pessimistic, or perhaps this is all in the moment, as I write this literally five minutes after Ron Artest heaved a Hail Mary to finish off the game.

But screw it. To these eyes, these teary eyes, this series is over.

And we can thank Kobe Bryant.

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