The old, plow-horse Lakers had the game won. They were about to defeat Oklahoma City and send the series back to L.A. tied at 1-1.
Instead, the Lakers spit the bit.
They blew a seven-point lead in the final two minutes and allowed Oklahoma City to steal a 77-75 win at home.
PHOTOS: Lakers vs. Thunder, Game 2
Steve Blake missed a wide open corner three-pointer that could have won it for the Lakers, but that wasn’t the reason why the Lakers lost.
The Lakers, who are supposed to be the veteran, experience team, simply collapsed.
The winning points for Oklahoma City came with 18.6 seconds left, when Kevin Durant bounced a shot home off the rim.
“We kept our composure,” Durant told TNT afterward.
Durant led Oklahoma City with 22 points.
Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with 20 points each.
The Lakers shot 25% in the fourth quarter, with six turnovers, but still should have prevailed.
In a complete reversal from Game 1, a 29-point loss, they showed toughness, heart and discipline on the road but couldn’t close the deal at what should have been a stunned crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Instead of going home 1-1, the Lakers are now two defeats from summer vacation.
The Lakers stayed in the game by getting down and dirty, but folded when it counted most.
The Lakers led 75-68, with 2:08 left, on Bynum’s basket but seemed determined to give it away.
After James Harden scored inside, Durant stole an errant pass from Kobe Bryant and scored to cut the lead to three.
The Thunder then got the ball back when a ball deflected off Bryant.
Harden scored on a driving layup with a minute left to cut the lead to one.
Blake hit a huge three at the 7:47 mark to give the Lakers their largest lead of the series, 68-63.
It was Blake’s first basket of the series.
The Lakers led by three points, 63-60, entering the fourth quarter.
In Monday’s first game, the Lakers trailed by 30 after three quarters and lost by 29.
Lakers Coach Mike Brown told his team all night, during timeouts, that the more physical team would win the game.
The Lakers played much tougher defense after getting torched in the opener, allowing Oklahoma City to shoot 53% for the game.
Games 4 and 5 will be played Friday and Saturday at Staples Center, a tough back-to-back chore for an older team but all part of this year’s unique consolidated season.
Lakers 63, Thunder 60 (end of third quarter)
I think it’s called a “ball game."
Is it good Laker defense, poor shooting or both?
Oklahoma City, which shot 53% in Game 1, had nine straight misses to start the quarter.
The Thunder ended the quarter shooting 43% for the game.
Remember, Oklahoma City outscored the Lakers by 15 in the third quarter of the first game to take a 30 point lead into the fourth quarter.
It’s not 30 tonight. This game has a chance to be interesting right until the end.
The Lakers started the half on a 6-0 run. World Peace is finally making Kevin Durant work.
The Lakers still need more production out of Ramon Sessions. He still hasn’t scored since making a basket in the first two minutes of the game and also stepped on the baseline while trying to maneuver under the basket.
He then missed a slam dunk on a breakaway which led to a transition slam dunk for the Thunder. That was a big four-point swing.
Oklahoma City is piling up fouls. Ibaka picked up his fourth foul at the 4:58 mark. Thebo Sefolosha and James Harden have three fouls.
Kobe Bryant picked up his third foul late while trying to stop Harden on a drive.
The Lakers took their biggest lead of night, 57-53, on goaltending call that led to Andrew Bynum basket.
Oklahoma City led the NBA in turnovers, averaging almost 17 a game, but had a franchise-low four in the first game.
Through three quarters, the Thunder has 10.
Numbers through three: Steve Blake scored his first points of the series on two free throws at the end of the quarter. Bryant has 16 points on seven-of-18 shooting. Gasol has 14 points and 10 rebounds while Bynum has 16 points and five rebounds.
Westbrook leads Oklahoma City with 15.