Lakers 114, Thunder 106: What if? (2011-2012 Game 64 Recap)

You almost saved this one, Russ. Almost.

Yahoo! Sports Box Score:

What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?

What if World Peace never hit Harden with his elbow? Would the Thunder have won this game? What if both of the Thunder's plays at the end of regulation and the end of OT weren't ridiculously low percentage threes? What if Kobe Bryant wasn't the greatest clutch player of all time? What if I ate a hamburger for lunch instead of a chicken sandwich?

All I know was the result of that game was so, so disappointing. The Thunder were leading by 16 points and had held the Lakers to 61 points for the entire game heading into the fourth. Aside from a miracle Fisher three, nobody scored for the Thunder but Durant and Westbrook. Distribute the ball. Distribute the ball!

What was tonight's turning point?

There were about a million turning points tonight. But once the Thunder needed to respond to the Lakers late in double overtime, Sefolosha lost the ball and Kobe Bryant got fouled. He hit both FT, and the game was basically lover from that point on, with the Thunder needing to win the fouling game in order to climb back in it.

What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder lost?

As I said, a lack of late game offense. Early in the fourth, the Thunder's subs came in and crapped all over themselves with a couple of missed Ivey threes. Then Westbrook and Durant took over the offense, turning the ball over and throwing up bricks from mid-range. The Thunder totally killed their lead, and Westbrook saved them from the ashes by getting to the line.

But you have to give credit to the Lakers as well. Kobe Bryant was unstoppable late in the game despite a horrible early performance and some exquisite defense from Sefolosha. Gasol was spot on with his mid-range jumper. And man, can Steve Blake hit threes. They played a horrible three initial quarters, but if this team knows how to do one thing, it's win games in the clutch. And draw the ire of every team that falls in their path.

What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?

The Lakers had 25 offensive rebounds, the Thunder had 14. The only reason the Lakers were even able to stay relatively in range of this game early on were offensive rebounds from Gasol, Hill, Ebanks, and World Peace. I don't even think Ebanks and Hill had plays drawn up for them in the playbook. They just seemed to live off of getting the ball back and creating opportunities.

Also, both teams shot 39% or less. It was a ugly game to watch.

What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?

The loss means the Thunder will have to win their remaining two games, and the Spurs will have to lose 3 of their remaining four games in order for the Thunder to re-gain the number one seed in the West. It also means that Thunder still haven't beaten a playoff team since April 1st, and that they still have a huge problem with late game offense.

Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, for single handedly carrying the game through crunch time.

Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, for great defense and offense tonight.

Thunder Blunder: Royal Ivey, for throwing up two bricks in the fourth.

Thunder Plunderer: Kobe Bryant, for excellent play in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Next Game: Versus the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, April 24th, 7 PM Central Daylight Time.

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