t gave them the opportunity to get in this game and stay in.”
Westbrook sat down with 5:35 left in the first quarter with two fouls, and the Thunder quickly fell behind. When he got his third foul with 6:06 left in the second quarter, the Thunder seemed doomed. Instead, the Thunder scratched back for a 47-45 lead.
Durant was the reason why. He shook off a miserable Game 1 and scored 32 points even though he was bear-hugged by Ron Artest most of the night.
When Westbrook returned, Durant had a sidekick, and this was a ballgame. Westbrook had 19 points on just 10 shots and is making Derek Fisher long for this series to be over.
But the Lakers are legit champions. Bryant had 15 points in the fourth quarter and seemed nothing like the passive player he was in Game 1.
“I had to get something going,” Bryant said. “It’s a mixture, kind of what the defense gives you but also being creative and creating those opportunities.”
Bryant won this game for the Lakers and brought the Staples Center crowd back to the table. Through three quarters, the loudest this arena got was when some guy sank a halfcourt shot during a timeout and won $235,000.
Then this game got so good, few left, which is amazing for LA, where the fans leave baseball games in the seventh inning and basketball games just starting overtime.
Some troubling things occurred for the Thunder. James Harden still is doing a disappearing act. He played less than 10 minutes and had his second straight scoreless game. The Thunder isn’t deep enough for its sixth man to play like this.
Thabo Sefolosha, who does a great job dogging Bryant, again sat out down the stretch, since he can’t make a shot (he was 2-of-7). If Sefolosha could score just a little, Brooks could play him longer on Kobe.
And Green’s got to shoot better. He was 2-of-11, including the final-shot miss, and a solid game from Green might be enough to give the Thunder a blowout over the Lakers somewhere in this series.
Aside from Durant and Westbrook, the Thunder made just 12 of 38 shots. Someone has to start helping on offense.
But on defense, the Thunder was superb. Terrific guarding and those flurry of blocked shots.
It wasn’t a victory, but it was enough to make you think the Thunder is coming back to Los Angeles very soon.
Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.