Even down late, the Oklahoma City Thunder are showing that they are never out.
Kevin Durant scored 22 points and rattled in the go-ahead basket on a baseline runner with 18 seconds left, and the Thunder scored the final nine points to rally for a 77-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night.
Oklahoma City trailed by seven with 2 minutes left before surging back with a series of defensive stops by its stars to claw back from that deficit in the closing stages of a game for the second time this postseason. The Thunder were also seven down with 2 1/2 minutes left in Game 1 against defending NBA champion Dallas in the first round.
”They won’t quit. That’s not in their DNA,” coach Scott Brooks said. ”They’re not wired that way and if they were, they wouldn’t be here. We’re not going to win every game but we’re going to fight to the last second of the game and we did that tonight.
”If we would have gotten down on ourselves with 2 minutes to go, we would have lost by 12 and we would go to L.A. 1-1.”
– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press
But what Oklahoma City did in those final 120 seconds was nothing short of sensational — especially given the style of play this ballgame had been in the first 46 minutes.
The Thunder stormed back from a late seven-point deficit to steal a 77-75 win in Game 2 on Wednesday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. With the narrow victory, the Thunder preserved home-court advantage and took a 2-0 series lead as this Western Conference semifinal now shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.
Maybe by the time the team lands in L.A., the Thunder will have regained a morsel of its offensive rhythm from Game 1.
– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman
The Thunder hounded Kobe Bryant into a miserable night, nine of 25 shooting. Kobe credited the Thunder defense for pushing him too far from the basket, sometimes starting out 25 feet away.
The Thunder also made Andrew Bynum labor for his 20 points.
The Thunder MVP was Kendrick Perkins. Gran Torino, playing with that sore hip, bodied and bullied Bynum into an 8-of-19 shooting night.
– Reported by Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman
The Lakers didn’t survive the late-game mistakes by Kobe Bryant and Steve Blake. They had back-to-back turnovers in the final stretch, with Bryant missing two shots and Blake the potential winning 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left.
Bryant said his struggles stemmed from Oklahoma City’s defense pushing him too far from the basket, leaving him “trying to create something — and it just didn’t work out.” …
But Bryant finished with 20 points on 9-of-25 shooting and missed all six of his 3-point shots. Lakers center Andrew Bynum had 20 points and nine rebounds but could be seen laughing on the court on separate occasions in the final seconds.
– Reported by Kevin Ding of the OC Register