Archive for May 20th, 2012

pau gasol

The Los Angeles Lakers trudged off the Staples Center floor late Saturday, a single loss now separating them from season’s end, another fourth-quarter collapse once again causing their undoing. They didn’t show much poise in the locker room, either, with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum pointing blame at others for allowing the Oklahoma City Thunder to steal their second victory in three games.

Bryant missed eight of his 10 shots in the final quarter, but shrugged off his struggles by saying his teammates’ lack of aggressiveness “forced” him to take tough shots. He also left no question which teammate deserved the most blame for the 103-100 loss in Game 4.

Pau Gasol.

Bryant faulted Gasol for not playing aggressive enough. It was also Gasol’s turnover that led to Kevin Durant making the winning 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left.

“Pau’s got to be more assertive,” Bryant said. “He’s the guy they’re leaving [open]. When he’s catching the ball, he’s looking to pass. He’s got to be aggressive. He’s got to shoot the ball or drive the ball to the basket. He will be next game.” …

After a dominant first half by Andrew Bynum on Saturday, the Thunder began fronting the Lakers’ center with Kendrick Perkins. Bryant thought Gasol didn’t attack enough when Serge Ibaka left him to help Perkins.

“He’s looking to swing the ball too much,” Bryant said. “He’s got to take his shot.”

– Reported by Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports

kevin durant

Kevin Durant stood above the 3-point line and watched the shot clock dwindle in the final seconds of Game 4. When Metta World Peace backed up slightly on defense, Durant hesitated only an instant before launching a 26-footer.

”It left my hand, (and) I was thinking, ‘If this doesn’t go in, it’s going to be a terrible shot,”’ Durant said.

The three-time scoring champ trusts his instincts and his silky-smooth jumper. Neither let him down while he and Russell Westbrook engineered yet another late comeback that pushed a frustrated Kobe Bryant to the brink.

Westbrook scored 10 of his 37 points during a stirring fourth-quarter rally, Durant added 31 points and hit that tiebreaking 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left, and the Thunder seized control of their second-round series with a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and the second-seeded Thunder took a 3-1 series lead with a rally from a 13-point deficit in the final 8 minutes, moving one win away from their second straight trip to the Western Conference finals…

Oklahoma City improved to 7-1 in the postseason with a tenacious rally on the second night of back-to-back games against the Lakers and Bryant, who scored 38 points but struggled in the fourth quarter of Los Angeles’ fifth loss in seven games. After Durant put the Thunder ahead with his shot-clock-draining 3-pointer, Kobe couldn’t match it with 10 seconds left…

The Thunder finished Game 4 on a 22-8 run, punctuated by Durant’s dramatic 3-pointer and two late free throws from James Harden, who had 12 points…

Andrew Bynum had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who led 92-81 with 7:45 to play before Westbrook went to work with a furious series of drives to the hoop. The UCLA product scored nine points in just over 2 minutes, and Kendrick Perkins capped the 17-4 run on a putback layup with 1:16 left, putting Oklahoma City up 98-96 with its first lead since the first quarter…

Bryant shot poorly in the first three games of the series, but went 10 for 18 in the first three quarters of Game 4 before managing only a 2-of-10 effort in the fourth, including a meaningless bucket at the buzzer.

– Reported by Greg Beacham of the Associated Press

tim duncan

Nothing was going to rattle the calm, cool and collected Spurs. Not even a 24-point deficit.

Tim Duncan scored 19 points, helping engineer a defining 24-0 run in the third quarter, and San Antonio defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 96-86 on Saturday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.

”We didn’t plan on being down that much,” said Duncan, who at 36 is hungry to win the team’s fifth NBA championship and first since 2006-07. ”We stuck with it.”

Led by Tony Parker’s 23 points and his defense on an ailing Chris Paul, the Spurs kept running their plays even as Blake Griffin’s early offensive assault buried them in a huge hole. Griffin missed three shots in the first half, when he scored 20 points and carried his team to a 24-point lead despite a left hip injury and a sprained right knee…

Griffin had 28 points and 16 rebounds, and reserve Mo Williams added 19 points for the Clippers, who face some daunting NBA history heading into Game 4 on Sunday at Staples Center. No team has rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series…

Rookie Kawhi Leonard added 14 points and Manu Ginobili 13 to help the top-seeded Spurs win their 17th in a row and improve to 7-0 in the playoffs…

San Antonio led by 11 points early in the fourth before the Clippers got within seven on consecutive baskets by Williams. Gary Neal hit a 3-pointer to launch a 13-9 spurt, capped by Parker’s 3-pointer, that extended the Spurs’ lead to 89-78. Paul, so dominant in the final period during the regular season, was limited to four points…

The Spurs were 9 of 22 from 3-point range, with Leonard hitting three…

The Clippers have lost 29 of 33 games against the Spurs dating to Dec. 1, 2003.

– Reported by Beth Harris of the Associated Press

Basketball blog