Kobe scores 42, but Thunder eliminate Lakers in Game 5Posted by Inside Hoops
Ramon Sessions did the best he could to keep Russell Westbrook from making a high-flying dunk that would energize the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even with his feet flat on the ground, Westbrook found a way to get the Thunder rolling past the Los Angeles Lakers and into the Western Conference finals for the second straight year.
After Sessions committed a foul to stop him on the fast break, Westbrook flipped the ball up toward the rim and got it to go in for what would become a three-point play. Westbrook took off toward the scorer’s table, pumping his fist as the home crowd celebrated.
There was no turning back after that, and Oklahoma City pulled away for a 106-90 victory in Game 5 on Monday night to knock the Lakers out of the playoffs…
Westbrook finished with 28 points, Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds and the two All-Stars skipped their usual rest periods to power the Thunder ahead in the second half…
Kobe Bryant scored 42 points for the Lakers and took the briefest of rest - less than 2 minutes - in the second half. It didn’t even take that long for the game, and their season, to slip away…
”I’m not fading into the shadows,” said Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers. ”I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere.” …
Gasol then came through with a monster game - 23 points, 17 rebounds and six assists - and Steve Blake scored a playoff career-best 19 points to save the Lakers that time. Bryant didn’t get nearly as much help against the Thunder.
Gasol took 14 shots, his most of the series, but made only five to finish with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Metta World Peace scored 11 and Bynum 10.
– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press
Andrew Bynum, Gasol’s fellow 7-footer, had only 10 points and four rebounds after getting into early foul trouble.
The Lakers’ second unit, maligned from start to finish this season, totaled five points. Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks scored two points apiece and Steve Blake had one, Their Thunder counterparts produced 35 points.
“I know we’re asking our ‘bigs’ to do a lot, but I know for sure we could have gotten more scoring from those two guys,” Brown said of Gasol and Bynum.
“We also could have gotten more from our bench.”
Oklahoma City was too good for the Lakers when it mattered most.
The Thunder were too fast, too athletic and too much for the Lakers to handle, starting with a burst that turned an 83-77 lead going into the fourth quarter into a 93-79 edge moments later.
– Reported by Elliot Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News
The beleaguered and beaten Lakers still lined up to give their props to the victors.
At the front of the OKC line stood three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, who was met first by Lakers coach Mike Brown.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks and Brown then exchanged pleasantries.
James Harden and Metta World Peace, an NBA sideshow since World Peace delivered a vicious elbow on April 22, slowly worked their way through the line before they finally came face-to-face.
World Peace gave a faint smile. Whatever reaction Harden had was swallowed by his lengthy beard.
They cupped hands, shared a hug, gave each other one pat on the back and then moved down the line.
World Peace said he told Harden, “Great job” and added, “James is a really good player.”
– Reported by John Rohde of the Oklahoman