If there was any doubt about Kevin Durant’s status as an NBA superstar, they should be squashed now. The league’s top scorer was brilliant again down the stretch, this time draining the game-winning three-point jump shot at the Staples Center to give Oklahoma City a 103-100 victory and commanding 3-1 Western Conference semifinals series lead.
OKC trailed by 13 points, 91-78, with eight minutes to play, but Durant’s mercurial sidekick, point guard Russell Westbrook, kept the Thunder in it until Durant took them over the top with his smooth trey ball from the top of the key with 12.7 to play.
Kobe Bryant scored 38 points, but had a miserable fourth quarter, hoisting up forced jump shots in the fourth quarter. He was 2-for-10 in final 12 minutes, while center Andrew Bynum, who had 14 points at halftime only had four field goal attempts in the second half and finished with 18.
Kendrick Perkins sealed a the 17-4 run on an offensive rebound layup with 1:16 left, putting Oklahoma City up 98-96 with its first lead since the first quarter.
After Bryant evened it with two free throws, Westbrook and Pau Gasol then traded turnovers, with Durant swiping Gasol’s careless pass before burying the straightaway 3-pointer that was the proverbial dagger.
Metta World Peace had 14 points, and Gasol just 10 points and five rebounds in the second game of the Lakers’ first back-to-back playoff games in 13 years. A night after the Lakers got back in the series with a late comeback for a 99-96 victory in Game 3, Los Angeles led for most of the night, but couldn’t execute on offense late, struggling for even difficult shots.
Durant notched 31 points to go with 13 rebounds. Westbrook was awesome, scoring 37 in sensational fashion.
The Lakers coughed up a seven-point lead in the last two minutes of Game 2 to go with last night’s failed close out. They could be up 3-1. Instead, they are one more defeat from the end of their season.