Thunder-Lakers: Ode to OKC's big three — Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison
COMMENTARY: The series would be headed back to Los Angeles if not for the play of Oklahoma City's big three big men.
The Thunder's big three came to play Monday night.
And we don't mean KD, Russ and James.
Oh, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden had fantastic games. Offensively, they were stellar. Defensively, they were solid.
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But this game turned and this series ended because of Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison. What they did defensively against the Lakers' big men made the difference Game 5.
Thunder 106, Lakers 90.
Without Perk, Serge and Nick, there's a good chance this series would be headed back to Los Angeles for another game. There's a good chance the Lakers would've had new life. There's a good chance this series would've gone seven games.
Instead, it's so LA-LA-long Lakers.
“I thought they were the big three,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Perk, Serge and Nick. “The Lakers' bigs are as good of bigs as there are in basketball. They're skilled. They're big. They're long. They block shots.”
And Monday night, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol didn't determine the outcome of this game or this series.
That's what could've happened because you knew Kobe was going to go off.
And he did.
The Lakers' superstar poured everything he had into this elimination game. He hit crazy shots. He made ridiculous plays. He scored 42 points, and at times, he looked like he was about 10 years younger than he is. And really, that's what you'd expect from a guy who's as competitive as Bryant.
That meant this game was going to turn on the Laker bigs.
But it didn't turn the Lakers' way.
Even though Gasol played 44 minutes and Bynum played 34 minutes, they only combined to score 24 points and grab 20 rebounds. And in the second half when it mattered most, they combined to score only seven points.
“I didn't go away from them,” Laker coach Mike Brown said. “We tried to do the same thing in the second half as we did in the first half.”
The Thunder didn't allow it.
It didn't allow the Laker bigs to do damage on the offensive glass either. Gasol and Bynum managed only two offensive rebounds between the two of them. Both of those came from Gasol.