LOS ANGELES — Game 4 between the Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night began just 21 hours after the conclusion of Game 3.
No way would the aging Lakers dare run with the young gazelles from OKC, not after narrowing their deficit in the playoff series to 2-1 with a 99-96 victory on Friday night.
Triple-digits were forbidden territory for LA, but that's precisely where the Lakers wound up as the Thunder's young legs sprinted by in the closing minutes for a 103-100 comeback victory at Staples Center.
OKC now leads 3-1 and a potentially clinching Game 5 will be Monday at 8:30 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
LA players and coaches continually have preached the importance of patience and pace against the Thunder.
In the end, the Lakers appeared to be running on fumes and it cost them an apparent 2-2 tie in the series.
Game 1 had been timed with a stopwatch as the Thunder blew out LA by a 119-90 count.
Games 2 and 3 were timed with an hour glass thanks to the Lakers dictating tempo.
The plan worked in Game 2, although OKC closed the game with a frantic 9-0 run for a 77-75 victory and a 2-0 lead.
The plan returned in Game 3 and the Lakers prevailed thanks to converting 41 of 42 free throws and outscoring the Thunder by 15 at the line.
But was that the plan for Game 4?
Oddly enough, it was the Lakers who forced tempo in the first half, persistently pushing the ball upcourt to take a 56-46 lead, thanks in part to outscoring the Thunder 13-8 on fast-break points.
In the second half, fatigued seemed to overtake LA, which managed just two points on the break.
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