Close 77-75 Defeat Means A Disappointing End to LA’s Season
And you thought 90-119 was bad, Laker fans.
But 75-77 is worse. Far worse.
It’s one thing to get blown out and another one to follow up and lose a game you had won the whole time. Close games are always mentally much more difficult to recover from than a blowout. And as a result of this Game 2 result, the series is over, the Lakers are done and the future of Andrew Bynam, Metta World Peace and even coach MIke Brown is as foggy as the coming June Gloom.
Oh, the Lakers will come home and win a game or two, temporarily exciting their fans. But, like the occasional peak of sun during the overcast month of June along the LA coast, it’s a tease.
The Game 1 blowout to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round of the NBA Playoffs was embarrassing. An insult to a proud franchise. A slap in the face to the fans.
But the loss was so bad, and it was only the first game of a best-of-seven series, it could be treated like a bad one-night stand. It happened, and it’s easy to move on to the next one.
And, like a bad one-night stand, there were all kinds of readily available excuses: The Thunder were fresh, the Lakers were tired; the Thunder were home; the Lakers were on the road; the Thunder showed up enthusiastic and ready to play, the Lakers showed up lethargic and in need of a nap.
And, when Game 2 rolled around, all those excuses seemed to be valid. Better rested, the Lakers came out and took it to the home team. The youth of the Thunder, so thunderous in the opener, began to panic. They could not shoot the ball any better than the sportswriters covering the game. The Thunder, which had rolled up 98 points in the third quarter in Game 1, had just 60 in Game 2. And they trailed by three.
But with the game all but won – L.A. had a seven-point lead with two minutes to play and the Thunder were reduced to trying desperation jump shots, none of which they could make – the Lakers collapsed. Kobe Bryant, of all people had a turnover that led to a fast-break basket (the only way the Thunder could score for nearly four minutes). He then was involved in another turnover the next possession. That was two turnovers in eight seconds. Oklahoma City, which scored just 12 points in the third quarter and 17 in the fourth, was on an 8-0 run.
Feeling the need to carry the team, Bryant tried to take over in the fourth quarter. But for whatever reason, he just didn’t have it; he couldn’t hit shots down the stretch. Still, he should have had a chance to win the game. But on the in-bounds play he was running away from the ball, and that left it up to Steve Blake to take the shot. He was wide open, but missed a three-pointer. It’s those kinds of things that have Brown on the hottest seat in L.A.
It was the end of the most disappointing – and devastating – Laker loss of the season.