What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
There's a meme called: Why can't I hold all of these limes? I don't know! That poor guy! But Thunder fans, they can't hold all of these comebacks! It's impossible! Too many comebacks, too few nerve endings! Gack!
Oh man. A few seconds before that KD shot, I was cursing ice for making Russell Westbrook slip on the floor, nearly injuring himself before the half, and turning the ball over at the end of the fourth. I was never going to put ice in my drink again! But then, KD hit that shot, and I realized that ice was a necessary part of the world.
But you can't forget Westbrook. You can't forget him. He turned into his 2011 self that we all know. The reckless, 100 mile an hour off-the-rails bullet train Westbrook. Running from end to end and wrecking the Laker defense, scoring regardless of anything in his way. Watching him and Kobe go back-to-back was a beautiful thing.
What was tonight's turning point?
Once Perkins tipped the ball in for his only basket of the game to put the Thunder up for the first time since it was 4-2, you knew the momentum was finally in OKC's favor. But when Kobe went right to the other end for free throws, you had to think that this game was far from being over. But when Kobe missed the response to Kevin Durant's shot, you knew the game was over. The momentum was gone, fans began streaming out of their seats.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder won?
It's been a while since this happened, but we went right back to our bread and butter on offense. Ibaka was missing jumpers. Harden was bricking open shots. Everyone else was a no-show. So the Thunder just went with Durant and Westbrook. Straight. Up. The Lakers challenged the Thunder in the first half by guarding only the Thunder's stars, and it nearly put this game away early. But the Thunder called their bluff, started attacking the basket, and were eventually rewarded. Not with fouls, but with some amazing layups. The Lakers fell back into shooting jumpers and getting fouled while simultaneously getting sucked into the Thunder's increased pace. They also ignored Bynum, who only had 2 attempts in the fourth.
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
Westbrook and Durant were a combined 25 of 44 from the floor tonight, the rest of the team was 13 of 33. They shot 17 free throws, as well. They were both incredibly efficient tonight, always looking for great looks.
But Serge Ibaka, he was 7-11, pretty much accounting for the majority of makes from the rest of the team. Since he continued to miss jumpers tonight, it felt like he did a lot worse. But the truth is, he was down there getting some great offensive boards, and he had a few nice opportunities on the pick and roll as well.
As for the rest of the team, the only good thing I can say about them is that Derek Fisher hit a big three and Thabo Sefolosha had a really awesome un-Sefoloshalike drive once. Lots of missed shots, especially from James Harden and the Thunder big men. Kobe was really good on both sides of the floor, but James Harden has no one to blame but himself. I'm not going so far as to blame him solely for the dry spells, but his defense on Kobe wasn't too fantastic either.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
The win puts them up 3-1 in the series, and a game away from closing it out at home. Given that they came back from over ten down, this win is huge emotionally, and puts them in a great position to move on to the conference finals.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, for the most recklessly beautiful play I've seen from him in a year.
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Durant. Giving it to anybody else would be a crying shame, considering his shot.
Thunder Blunder: James Harden. 1-6 from three. Pleh.
Thunder Plunderer: Andrew Bynum. Let me read you this statline. 9-15 from the field, 18 Points, 5 Offensive Rebounds, 4 Defensive Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 3 Blocks, NO Turnovers. Perfect. Well, I guess he did miss two free throws.