Posts Tagged ‘Kobe Bryant’
The 16-banner Los Angeles Lakers come to Oklahoma City tonight to try and extend their season and get this second-round series back to Hollywood. The young Thunder, with a 3-1 advantage, will push, prod and pounce on the teetering LA squad in an effort to return to the Western Conference Finals for the second year in a row.
Current 3X NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant and his teammates are 30-7 in their building this season and have exhibited more poise and composure than the finger-pointing Lakers at the end of games in this high-profile series. Los Angeles and their worldwide fan base know that tonight’s 48 and accompanying scenario could be reversed very easily if this group performs better down the stretch.
The Purple & Gold were blown out in Game 1 in OKC, 119-90, but their other two defeats in Games 2 and 4 were by two and three points respectively. And in the last game on Saturday at Staples, LA blew a 13-point lead with eight minutes remaining, capped off by a KD tie-breaking 3-pointer with 13 seconds left. 2X All-Star, SoCal native and UCLA product PG Russell Westbrook poured in 37 in the victory.
14X All-Star Kobe Bryant had 38, 8 and 5 in Game 4, but needed help down the stretch from his two All-Star 7-footers. Both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have performed decently in this series. However to beat this surging OKC group they’ll have to significantly upgrade their end-of-game focus and production.
Bryant, in a sign of frustration and lonely leadership, has called out Gasol specifically. The Mamba knows that this core Laker group went to the NBA Finals three years in a row and ended up with rings in 2009 and 2010 – so they have the experience and talent to get back there. Granted this year in LaLa land is different in that Phil Jackson and Lamar Odom are gone, and 5X champ Derek Fisher now plays for OKC.
The Denver Nuggets took the Lakers to seven games in the first round, whereas OKC swept the defending champion Mavericks in four. Team fatigue was definitely a factor in the Lakers’ loss in Game 1 of this tilt. The other pair of L’s that have them on the edge of elimination this evening had more to do with crunch-time execution, trust and desire. If they lose Game 5 tonight, this will most probably be the last time this championship Laker group will play together as teammates.
Tune in to TNT at 9:30 PM ET to see if the Lakers can stay alive against the title-hungry Thunder.
The Oklahoma City Thunder (38-12) sit atop the Western Conference with 16 games to go in the regular season and lead the entire NBA in scoring per game at 103.7. Tonight they venture to SoCal to take on the Los Angeles Lakers, leaders of the Pacific Division at 31-19 and a rugged 20-4 at Staples.
NBA scoring leader Kobe Bean Bryant (28.3) will be welcoming back longtime backcourt mate Derek Fisher. D-Fish, who was traded two weeks ago to the Houston Rockets and then bought out and signed by the ring-hungry Thunder, played 13 years for the Lake Show and helped them win five championships over that span. Look for the Hollywood crowd and ex-mates to give Fisher lots of audible love.
This evening’s 48 will be the second time these two sides have squared off this compacted season. On February 23rd in OKC, the Thunder brought some lightning in the form of MVP candidate Kevin Durant. KD had 33 points on 12 of 22 shooting, and OKC won 100-85. Durant, the 2X NBA scoring champion, currently sits just below the Mamba at 27.8 ppg.
Coach Mike Brown’s crew played on Tuesday night at Golden State and prevailed 104-101. Kobe had 30, Pau Gasol pulled down 17 boards and C Andrew Bynum had a seat on the bench after jacking up an ill-advised,
bizarre 3-bomb. A few Laker players, including Bryant, have clashed with Brown in his first year at the helm of the team. Brown is in a tough spot taking over one of the league’s most scrutinized teams for the 11 X champ Phil Jackson.
The Thunder have the second best road team in the NBA with a 16-8 record away from the Sooner State. On Tuesday in Portland, PG Russell Westbrook brought the sizzle. The one-time UCLA Bruin and LA native went 16-26 for 32 points and dished out 8 dimes in OKC’s 109-95 victory. KD went 10-14 for 25 points in the game.
A ‘W’ tonight would mean a lot to both sides. The Lakers sit just 2 games above their intra-arena rivals the Clips for the division. And though the Thunder lead the West, they have the surging, deep, veteran Spurs on their heels, trailing the 1-seed by only 2.5 games.
As the usual entertainment stars from stage and screen align in their primo seats, the historical, milestone variety will cosmically line up too. Fifty years ago today, Laker HOF teammates Elgin Baylor and Jerry West became the first and only teammates to both score 40 or more points in a playoff game. Interestingly, the tandem of Durant and Westbrook has accomplished this feat twice just this season.
Tune in to TNT, Marv and me at 10:30 PM ET to watch these Western Conference stalwarts do battle.