Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Final score) Lakers 95, Thunder 94
Remember how Lakerdom was at a point of panic just a few days ago. The Lakers had lost two straight to the Thunder and there was a real concern that the defending NBA champions might not even make it out of the first round.
Time to relax. The Lakers went down to the last second Friday night as Pau Gasol put the ball in after a Kobe Bryant miss and the Lakers took a 95-94 win over a tough Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers won the series 4-2 and will play Utah on Sunday at the Staples Center. Utah closed out Denver, 112-104, on Friday night to win its best of-seven series 4-2.
Bryant certainly stepped up by scoring 32 points on 12-of-25 shooting. Gasol, even though he scored the winning basket, did not have the best of games, scoring only nine points, but he was big with 18 rebounds.
Derek Fisher also made some key baskets for the Lakers, going three of six from the beyond the three-point line. He finished with 11 points. The Lakers' bench even stepped up as Shannon Brown had 11 points and Lamar Odom had nine points and,even more importantly, seven rebounds.
The Thunder should be proud of their effort against a team that everyone thought was easily superior. Kevin Durant had a difficult five-of-23 shooting night for 26 points. But it was UCLA's Russell Westbrook who kept the Thunder in the game with 21 points, including a couple of key baskets down the stretch.
Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Fourth quarter, 2:41), Thunder 92, Lakers 91
The Lakers' lead was there but tenuous. Even Luke Walton hit a three -- yes, Luke Walton. Derek Fisher also stepped up during what has been a pretty good game with a layup. It was his 11th point.
But Russell Westbrook wasn't ready to give up and a 24-foot three-pointer cut the Lakers' lead to four points, 86-82 with 6:21 to play in the game.
Coming out of the timeout Phil Jackson reinserted his starters and here is where we would find out if the Lakers would need a Game 7. And who do you think was a difference-maker at that point? No, not Luke Walton. Ron Artest, who made his first three-pointer in four tries.
The Thunder closed to within five but it was Artest again, hitting a 17-footer. But the Thunder would not give up as Kevin Durant hit from long range and the Lakers' lead was down to four. An Artest turnover gave the Thunder a chance to close to within a bucket and Westbrook hit for two and the the Thunder's deficit was down to two.
Then in a fourth quarter that seemed so promising, Westbrook hit another two and was fouled and the Thunder had a 92-91 lead with 2:41 to play. Turnovers were killing the Lakers.
Do they have enough to recapture the lead?
Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Fourth quarter, 8:51) Lakers 81, Thunder 75
The Lakers, as is their usual rotation, opened the fourth quarter with their second team. But, Shannon Brown started like anything but a second-team player with a three-pointer. It was his fourth make in five tries and he has 11 points in the game.
Serge Ibaka closed the lead to four points and after a Laker shot clock violation the Thunder answered with their own shot clock violation. Yeah, they play defense in the playoffs.
The second team continued to keep the game under control when Luke Walton -- yes, Luke Walton -- hit a fade-away jumper from the baseline and the lead remained at six.
Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (End of third quarter) Lakers 76, Thunder 73
The Lakers' goal for the remainder of the third quarter was quite simple, bide some time while Kobe Bryant was sitting on the bench after picking up his fourth foul. Bryant had scored 16 points midway through the third quarter.
It didn't take long for the Thunder to respond after a Lakers miss and turnover, and Kevin Durant tied the score on two free throws. But, the Lakers have more than one big-play guy -- remember the past -- Derek Fisher. He buried a 25-foot three-pointer with 16 seconds to play in the quarter and the Lakers took a three-point lead heading into the fourth.
Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Third quarter, 2:46), Lakers 73, Thunder 67
The Thunder continued to not give up, tying the score, 65-65, until Kobe Bryant did what he does so well, hits the big shot, a three-pointer to give the Lakers a three-point lead. After a turnover, the Lakers extended their lead to five when Lamar Odom drove the lane and dunked.
After Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook hit a couple of free throws, Bryant continued to show the flashes of brilliance that Lakerdom has grown so accustomed to with a 24-foot three pointer and the Lakers took a six-point lead heading into a timeout.
Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Third quarter, 5:31) Lakers 65, Thunder 63
The second half started badly for the Lakers with Jeff Green hitting a three -- moments after Ron Artest missed his third three-pointer -- and then Green came back with a layup and it was a one-point game.