Defending Kobe: B. Again, no easy shots for Kobe Bryant, who made just nine of 25 attempts. Thabo Sefolosha was superb, and James Harden and Kevin Durant were effective, too, when called on. And Russell Westbrook's steal from Kobe and subsequent dunk gave OKC a 92-87 lead. But strangely, the Thunder had Derek Fisher on his old pal on back-to-back possessions early in the fourth quarter, and Kobe hit jump shots on both to give the Lakers a 78-76 lead. And the Thunder fouled too much – Kobe made all 18 of his foul shots, including two with 33.8 seconds left to give LA a 95-94 lead. Kobe finished with 36 points but now has made just 25 of 68 shots in the series.
Kendrick Perkins: A. Gran Torino would get a good grade just for his bright blue Nikes. Looked really solid with the Thunder's road blues. But Perk was more than just show. He played a ferocious game, frustrating Laker 7-footer Andrew Bynum into an horrific night, 2-of-13 shooting, though Bynum made 11 of 12 foul shots to score 15 points. Perkins also sank two foul shots to give the Thunder a 90-87 lead with 3:11 left.
Composure: B. The Thunder kept their cool despite a horrid start. The Lakers spurted to an 18-6 lead, and nothing seemed to work. But the Thunder didn't panic and scratched back into the game. In the second quarter, the Thunder lost its cool a bit. Westbrook and Metta World Chaos drew offsetting technical fouls for a scrum when Westbrook grabbed an offensive rebound and went to the floor. Perk drew a technical for voicing his displeasure over a foul call, but truthfully, the Thunder needed to send the refs a message at that point in the game.
Shot selection: C. The Thunder got plenty of good shots. But it also took ill-advised shots at inopportune times. After the Thunder grabbed a 68-61 lead late in the third quarter, it missed six straight shots to end the period. Three of the first four were questionable – a quick pullup by Westbrook, a wild drive by Harden and a macho drive by Fisher. Late in the game, when the Thunder had a chance to extend a three-point lead, Westbrook missed 3-pointers on two straight possessions. The first was OK, but the second seemed rushed.
Defending point guards: D. Ramon Sessions, who has had a miserable series, was the last Laker the Thunder needed to worry about. But Sessions started the game aggressive and attacked the basket. He finished with 12 points, making five of nine shots. And Westbrook let Steve Blake get loose for a bank shot and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to give the Lakers an 83-83 tie. Blake scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Message sending: A. Westbrook played poorly to start the game, particularly on transition defense. So Scotty Brooks sent a quick message. Westbrook sat out the final 6:01 of the first quarter. When Westbrook returned, he was much better.
Small lineup: B. Against the Lakers, Brooks hasn't used the small-ball lineup he likes so much. LA is just too big. But it was effective at a crucial time in Game 3. Down 16-4, Brooks went with a lineup of Durant, Perkins, Sefolosha, Fisher and Harden. It helped stymie the Laker momentum, and the Thunder was within 21-13 when Brooks returned to a conventional lineup five minutes later.