Friday night’s clinic in postseason hoops proved what the folks in Oklahoma City got to see first hand even if it wasn’t proven until this series shifted to Los Angeles. The Lakers stumbled onto a formula for success against OKC in Game 2 they just failed in the ultimate execution of that game plan.
The back and forth battle that was Game 3 wasn’t always played on L.A.’s terms but in the end this was a win won the L.A. way.
Mike Brown ball is anything but pretty. We’ve seen that all year long as the Lake Show has been more slow-time than ShowTime. But results are all that matter. Save the style points for dunk competitions and fashion shows. This is playoff basketball and these Lakers know they can beat the Thunder. They’ve proven it twice in two games even though only once have the Lakers earned the W for their efforts.
Kobe Bryant said early this season that the Lakers have a narrow margin for error. KB24’s line of 36, 7 and 6 was highlighted by an assaulting attack on the rim as he refused to settle for jumpers. That attacking mentality resulted in 18 trips to the line for Mamba. In proving his theory correct Bryant allowed for no errors whatsoever going 18 of 18 from the line.
As a team the Lakers were an amazing 41 of 42 from the charity stripe and they’d need every one of those buckets. Right on L.A.’s tail the Thunder shot lights out as well from the line missing just twice in 28 attempts as a team.
Truly the kind of stuff that postseason hoops is made of.
All those free throws reassured the Lakers that when they’re playing the game at their pace they can grab the contest by the scruff of its neck whenever they see fit. Unlike Game 2, the Lakers took control late and wouldn’t relinquish.
Knowing the path is one thing, walking it quite another.
Last night the Lakers walked the road to victory as if they had the road map memorized.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden weren’t allowed to do whatever they wanted but the Lakers did make an effort to stop everyone else besides OKC’s big three. The Thunder triplets combined for 73 of the team’s 96. That’s just fine by the Lakers so long as no other Thunder cracks double digits.
Combine a more balanced scoring attack from the Lake Show and suddenly the offensive advantage is L.A. all day.
After Kobe, no other Laker scored more than 15 but that’s just fine when you’re getting double-digit efforts from 5 other Lakers.
Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol posted dueling double-doubles. Ramon Sessions shrugged off his second round blues with his best effort of the series thus far. Steve Blake bounced back with an inspired performance off the bench. And for good measure Metta World Peace provided some offensive support to match his bullying nature.
World Peace authored the moment of the match when he gave Westbrook a subtle, knee-driven reminder of just who controls the contest.
Metta got a tech for his troubles but the message was clear – this is our house and this is our game.
The Lakers weren’t going to be denied in Game 3. They battled back when all the momentum was favoring the Thunder, refusing to rollover and accept a defeat that would have put them on the brink of elimination. For their efforts the Lakers have the great pleasure of proving their formula all over again tonight.
But this hectic schedule fits just fine with what the Lakers were looking to do back home. Taking two from the Thunder was never going to be an easy accomplishment. Having to get a veteran team rested and ready for back-to-backs with playoff intensity is also a challenge. That’s why finding the formula to foil OKC was so vital. Now the Lakers have a point of reference whenever things get tense which they certainly will with minimal time to get up for Game 4.