LeBron James was philosophical about his team's Game 2 loss as well… (Wilfredo Lee / Associated…)
There's suddenly a common bond that has developed between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James: Both players disappeared in the fourth quarter of their respective Game 2 losses.
Yet there's an obvious difference between the two. After missing his last five shots in the game, Bryant looked visibly upset that Metta World Peace ignored him and passed to an open Steve Blake, whose missed three-pointer allowed the Thunder to escape with a 77-75 Game 2 victory. A day after missing a pair of free throws in the final minutes of Miami's Game 2 loss to Indiana, James defended both World Peace's inbounds play and Blake shooting the open trey.
"I thought it was a great play, you know my answer," James told reporters at a morning shootaround Thursday before Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against Indiana. "The person that should be very happy is Russell [Westbrook]. He [got] caught peeking in the paint and left a very good shooter open. Those are the same shots Derek Fisher has hit multiple times for the Lakers. If Steve Blake makes that shot, it's a whole different story line."
It sure would've been. The Lakers would've tied the series at 1-1. Blake's three-pointer would've further cemented his wild-card role this postseason, including a playoff career-high 19 points that secured the Lakers' Game 7 win over Denver. And all the dissection over Bryant's disappearing act in the fourth quarter would've been glossed over.
As for Bryant's frustration that World Peace didn't pass him the ball, that remains unwarranted. Contrary to Coach Mike Brown's proclamation that Bryant was "wide open," the Lakers star actually set a flare screen, curled away from the ball and drove down the middle of the lane in heavy traffic. World Peace simply hit the open man — Blake.
"You know how it works," James said. "[World Peace] made the perfect [decision] and [Blake] just missed it. You know, I've been there before. It was a great play."
Miami would've enjoyed a 2-0 series lead if a few circumstances had changed in Game 2. The Heat went one-of-nine from the field in the last four minutes. Dwyane Wade missed a layup with 16 seconds that would have tied the game. And Mario Chalmers missed a potential game-tying three-pointer just before time expired.
"It's the best time of year for sports fans, the playoffs; if you're a sports fan, you have an opinion," Wade told reporters. "As a player you have to come out and do what you feel is right. You're going to make mistakes — that's a part of life. If you could get some possessions back, we all would. That's not life. It's easy to watch it on instant replay and say what you would've done."
Mike Brown defends LeBron James' late-game decisions
Mike Brown: Kobe Bryant more 'business-like' than LeBron James
Email the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Lakers blog on Twitter.