After three quarters of the NBA game between the Thunder and Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, it appeared that Oklahoma City was going to make a resounding statement against their bitter Western Conference foes and walk out of the Staples Center with a three-game sweep of the season series. As the Thunder rudely found out on Sunday, however, the game isn't over after 36 minutes.
It took two overtimes, but Kobe Bryant and the Lakers didn't send their devoted Staples Center fans home disappointed, pulling out a 114-106 victory from the jaws of defeat and salvaging the final game in its three-game season series with the Thunder, who had won the previous two games between the two Western Conference giants this season.
Led by their ice-in-his-veins perennial All-Star, Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Oklahoma City Thunder 30-14 to erase a 16-point deficit after three periods and force their NBA game Sunday in Los Angeles into an extra session.
The two teams remained tied at 97-all after the first overtime period, but the Lakers jumped out in front and stayed their in the second overtime, outscoring Oklahoma City 17-9 to win by eight points.
The Thunder led throughout most of the game, jumping out to a 26-20 lead at the end of the first quarter and maintaining a five-point advantage at the end of the half, largely on the strength of a combined 26 points from James Harden and Serge Ibaka. In the third period, OKC's scoring leader and the NBA's No. 2 scorer (behind Bryant), Keven Durant, began to heat up as the Thunder extended their five-point halftime lead to 16 points, 77-61, at the three-quarter mark.
Durant finished with a game-high 35 points, 25 coming in the second half and overtime sessions. Serge Ibaka added 18, 12 coming in the first half. Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points, and Gasol scored 20.
The fourth quarter was all Los Angeles, as the Lakers roared back behind the shooting of their two big scorers, Bryant and Pau Gasol.
The Lakers were forced to play the second half without World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest), who was ejected from the game very late in the first half for throwing what was ruled as an intentional elbow with the intent to harm against Harden of the Thunder.
The Thunder have two more games to play in the regular season (both at home, against Sacramento on Tuesday and Denver on Wednesday) and the Lakers have one game remaining (at Sacramento on Thursday) before the NBA playoffs get under way on Saturday.
For more on this game Thunder fans should check out Welcome To Loud City and Lakers fans should visit Silver Screen And Roll. For more news and notes from around the NBA head over to SB Nation's NBA Basketball page.