The Thunder’s defense slumped the final six weeks but has returned to pre-All-Star break from in two playoff games. Blocking 17 shots and limiting the Lakers to 37.5 percent shooting is how OKC pushed the defending champions to the final buzzer.
B+ Star power
After both players had off games in Game 1, Kobe Bryant (39 points) and Kevin Durant (32 points) both played well. Bryant, the ultimate closer, scored 15 points in the fourth quarter.
C- Supporting cast
Durant was solid, not spectacular, but received little help from his two sidekicks — Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green. Westbrook overcame foul trouble to score 19 points but had as many turnovers (three) as assists (three). Green scored 12 points was only 2-of-11 from the field.
The Thunder came out lethargic in Game 1 but produced great energy from start to finish in Game 2. The Thunder had an impressive 17 blocked shots.
D Clutch play
Leading 88-86 with 2:49 remaining, the Thunder faltered down the stretch. Durant and Green both missed 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds. A Serge Ibaka offensive goal-tending call with 2:18 left wiped off a potential tying basket. Two turnovers the final two minutes (including an offensive foul) were costly. Kobe Bryant was big in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers also missed three free throws the final 1½ minutes to give OKC a chance.
BY MIKE BALDWIN