May 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) moves to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of game three of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Lakers-Thunder Game 4 Preview: Déjà vu All Over Again

Didn’t we just do this? I woke up this morning expecting to hear Sonny and Cher blasting out of my clock radio knowing that tonight the Lakers and Thunder were going to be playing postseason hoops inside Staples Center…again.

No, Laker fans, we’re not stuck in Groundhog Day. This is really happening all over again and yes last night did happen. The Lakers did grind out a gritty 99-96 win to finally scratch in this second round series. Kobe Bryant did lead the way with 36 points, half of which came on a perfect 18 for 18 performance from the charity stripe. Metta World Peace did drop a polite knee on Russell Westbrook. You didn’t dream any of that up.

It is all real and it is all really going to happen all over again tonight…hopefully.

For the Lakers to really make this a series it will take a repeat performance. The same offensive balance and clutch free throw shooting. The same inspired play from Steve Blake off the bench. The same will to fight. The same determination to win. The same formula for success we’ve seen on display for two games running.

Hard to believe that the Lakers have the chance to undo in 48 hours in Los Angeles what was established in four days in Oklahoma City.

When this series began it was looking like the Thunder was going to roll to the Western Finals. Three games in and it’s still very much up for grabs…provided the Lake Show closes the curtain on two days of inspired hoops in fashion.

For the Lakers now is not the time to try and reinvent the wheel. Though they faltered late in Game 2 their recipe for success was seasoned to perfection in Game 3. Taking the Thunder out of their run-and-gun/pick-and-roll comfort zone has given L.A. a leg up.

So too has the size advantage in the paint. Pau Gasol is getting back to his roots by getting closer to the hoop while Andrew Bynum is keeping his head down and going hard in the paint.

Mix in Metta’s harassing style of play, Blake’s resurgence and Ramon Sessions slowly hitting his stride and things could be coming together at the exact right time…hopefully.

Still, it will take every ounce of effort to make this series a best of three heading back to OKC. On the bright side we won’t have to wait long to get our next glimpse of the formulaic Lake Show. Thanks to the hectic Staples schedule we’re just hours away from the best drama in town. It’s déjà vu all over again tonight. Here’s hoping that Sonny and Cher is playing first thing tomorrow morning too.

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Tags: 2012 Nba Playoffs Andrew Bynum Kobe Bryant Metta World Peace Oklahoma City Thunder Pau Gasol Ramon Sessions Russell Westbrook Steve Blake

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