LOS ANGELES — Heading into Game 3 on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers said nothing major was needed to overcome a heartbreaking loss two nights earlier against the Thunder that put them down 2-0 in the series.
The Lakers wound up simply returning the heartache to OKC with a comeback victory of their own.
In Game 2, the Lakers led by seven with 2:08 remaining, but was outscored 9-0 the rest of the way in a 77-75 loss at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
In Game 3, the Thunder led by five with 2:54 remaining, but was outscored 12-4 the rest of the way in a 99-96 loss at Staples Center.
Game 4 will be Saturday at 9:40 p.m., also at Staples Center.
In handing OKC its first loss of the playoffs, all the Lakers had to do was toe the free-throw line and make open 15-footers.
Los Angeles converted an astounding 41 of 42 free throws (. 976) compared to the Thunder hitting 26 of 28 (. 929).
"You're not going to get a better look than a free throw against these guys," Lakers coach Mike Brown said.
The biggest free throws were two that never came for the Thunder when forward Kevin Durant appeared to be fouled while trying to follow up on an offensive rebound with 12.9 seconds left and the Thunder trailing 95-94.
OKC was called for 30 fouls and the Lakers for 22.
Half of Kobe Bryant's game-high 36 points came at the line, where he went 18 for 18, including six free throws in the final 1:09.
Durant led the Thunder with 31 points while Russell Westbrook and James Harden scored 21 each.
OKC took a 68-61 lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter on a running 14-foot bank shot from Durant while going out of bounds along the left baseline.
From that point, the Thunder missed its next nine shots from the field, which included the final six attempts of the third quarter. The dry spell finally ended with another miraculous shot from Durant, who caught a poor alley-oop pass, regained control of the ball and spun to make a 10-footer.
OKC trailed by 12 in the early going, but fought back to take its first lead midway through the second quarter.
From that point, there were 10 ties and 10 lead changes.
Heading into the game, the Lakers didn't seem too concerned to be trailing 2-0.
Asked how he would pick up the pieces, center Andrew Bynum said: "I don't think we have many pieces to pick up. We know exactly how to defend them now. We're actually confident." Bynum finished with 15 points (11 for 12 at the line), 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Forward Pau Gasol, who had 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, said: "We have a great team, we have a great desire and even though we're playing a very tough opponent and we're behind in this series, we still believe in our chances. We got to fight until the end, obviously. (Friday) is an important, crucial game. Crucial game. Both games are crucial. To be able to go back to Oklahoma with the series tied and put the pressure back on them, that's where our chances are."
Bryant simply said: "Everybody is fine."