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Lakers eliminate the Thunder on last-second basket

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Final score) Lakers 95, Thunder 94

Remember how Lakerdom was at a point of panic just a few days ago. The Lakers had lost two straight to the Thunder and there was a real concern that the defending NBA champions might not even make it out of the first round.

Time to relax. The Lakers went down to the last second Friday night as Pau Gasol put the ball in after a Kobe Bryant miss and the Lakers took a 95-94 win over a tough Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers won the series 4-2 and will play Utah on Sunday at the Staples Center. Utah closed out Denver, 112-104, on Friday night to win its best of-seven series 4-2.

Bryant certainly stepped up by scoring 32 points on 12-of-25 shooting. Gasol, even though he scored the winning basket, did not have the best of games, scoring only nine points, but he was big with 18 rebounds.

Derek Fisher also made some key baskets for the Lakers, going three of six from the beyond the three-point line. He finished with 11 points. The Lakers’ bench even stepped up as Shannon Brown had 11 points and Lamar Odom had nine points and,even more importantly, seven rebounds.

The Thunder should be proud of their effort against a team that everyone thought was easily superior. Kevin Durant had a difficult five-of-23 shooting night for 26 points. But it was UCLA’s Russell Westbrook who kept the Thunder in the game with 21 points, including a couple of key baskets down the stretch.

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Fourth quarter, 2:41), Thunder 92, Lakers 91

The Lakers’ lead was there but tenuous. Even Luke Walton hit a three -- yes, Luke Walton. Derek Fisher also stepped up during what has been a pretty good game with a layup. It was his 11th point.

But Russell Westbrook wasn’t ready to give up and a 24-foot three-pointer cut the Lakers’ lead to four points, 86-82 with 6:21 to play in the game.

Coming out of the timeout Phil Jackson reinserted his starters and here is where we would find out if the Lakers would need a Game 7. And who do you think was a difference-maker at that point? No, not Luke Walton. Ron Artest, who made his first three-pointer in four tries.

The Thunder closed to within five but it was Artest again, hitting a 17-footer. But the Thunder would not give up as Kevin Durant hit from long range and the Lakers’ lead was down to four. An Artest turnover gave the Thunder a chance to close to within a bucket and Westbrook hit for two and the the Thunder’s deficit was down to two.

Then in a fourth quarter that seemed so promising, Westbrook hit another two and was fouled and the Thunder had a 92-91 lead with 2:41 to play. Turnovers were killing the Lakers.

Do they have enough to recapture the lead?

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Fourth quarter, 8:51) Lakers 81, Thunder 75

The Lakers, as is their usual rotation, opened the fourth quarter with their second team. But, Shannon Brown started like anything but a second-team player with a three-pointer. It was his fourth make in five tries and he has 11 points in the game.

Serge Ibaka closed the lead to four points and after a Laker shot clock violation the Thunder answered with their own shot clock violation. Yeah, they play defense in the playoffs.

The second team continued to keep the game under control when Luke Walton -- yes, Luke Walton -- hit a fade-away jumper from the baseline and the lead remained at six.

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (End of third quarter) Lakers 76, Thunder 73

The Lakers’ goal for the remainder of the third quarter was quite simple, bide some time while Kobe Bryant was sitting on the bench after picking up his fourth foul. Bryant had scored 16 points midway through the third quarter.

It didn’t take long for the Thunder to respond after a Lakers miss and turnover, and Kevin Durant tied the score on two free throws. But, the Lakers have more than one big-play guy -- remember the past -- Derek Fisher. He buried a 25-foot three-pointer with 16 seconds to play in the quarter and the Lakers took a three-point lead heading into the fourth.

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Third quarter, 2:46), Lakers 73, Thunder 67

The Thunder continued to not give up, tying the score, 65-65, until Kobe Bryant did what he does so well, hits the big shot, a three-pointer to give the Lakers a three-point lead. After a turnover, the Lakers extended their lead to five when Lamar Odom drove the lane and dunked.

After Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook hit a couple of free throws, Bryant continued to show the flashes of brilliance that Lakerdom has grown so accustomed to with a 24-foot three pointer and the Lakers took a six-point lead heading into a timeout.

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Third quarter, 5:31) Lakers 65, Thunder 63

The second half started badly for the Lakers with Jeff Green hitting a three -- moments after Ron Artest missed his third three-pointer -- and then Green came back with a layup and it was a one-point game.

But that’s where Kobe Bryant stepped up with a three and followed that with one of two free throws. On the miss, the Lakers got the rebound and, you guessed it, Bryant buried a 13-footer.

After a Kevin Durant basket, Bryant came back for a layup and his 21st and 22nd points. Still the Lakers couldn’t shake the Thunder and after a couple of baskets the Thunder brought the game even, 61-61, with 7:36 left in the quarter.

The teams traded baskets and after a couple misses Bryant connected with a fade-away jumper and the Lakers led, 65-63. It was clear this game won’t be decided for awhile.

--John Cherwa

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Halftime): Lakers 53 Thunder 47

The Lakers, led by guard Kobe Bryant’s 14 points and balanced scoring off the bench, took a six-point lead into halftime.

Lakers reserve forward Josh Powell hit two free throws for a 51-45 lead with about 90 seconds left in the quarter.

Bryant played 20 minutes in the half and kept looking for his shot, although he misfired frequently, hitting only five of 13 from the field.

The Thunder shot only 33% from the field in the half. And forward Kevin Durant missed nine of his 11 shots, although he scored nine points from the free-throw line. Durant leads the Thunder with 14 points. Durant also drew Derek Fisher into his third foul with about three minutes left in the half.

The Lakers benefited from a strong effort by their bench: guard Shannon Brown hit three buckets in a short stretch in the second quarter; he has eight points. Forward Lamar Odom has also been more aggressive looking for his shot, and has seven points; point guard Jordan Farmar also hit a three-pointer in the second quarter.

Thunder center Nenad Krstic had his best half of the series and has 11 points.

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Second quarter 5:48) Lakers 40, Thunder 38

Jodran Farmar hit a three-pointer to give the Lakers a 38-34 lead. Farmar is also taking his turn defending Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, even though Kobe Bryant is on the court.

The Lakers are getting good production this quarter from their bench; Shannon Brown has seven points.

Kevin Durant hit a jumper, his first field goal, after missing his first seven shots to cut the Lakers’ lead to 38-37.

Bryant is looking for his shot -- he’s taken 12 so far, but has hit only four. Bryant leads the Lakers with 11 points.

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6 (Second quarter 8:44 ) Lakers 35, Thunder 34

Shannon Brown hit a three-pointer before the timeout to give the Lakers the lead. Brown has hit three jumpers this quarter from the right side of the court; he has seven points.

Lamar Odom picked up his second foul in the quarter.

Center Nenad Krstic hit two free throws to give the Thunder a 31-30 lead. Krstic, an unlikely scoring threat, has 11 points.

Lakers vs. Thunder (End of first quarter): Thunder 27, Lakers 26

Led by Russell Westbrook’s eight points and nine more by center Nenad Krstic, the Thunder rallied to take the lead after 12 minutes, thanks in part to an 8-1 run near the end of the quarter.

Kobe Bryant played the entire quarter and led the Lakers with nine points, although he missed eight of his 11 shots from the field.

Pau Gasol has five points for the Lakers.

The Thunder overcame a bad start by Kevin Durant, who missed all six shots in the quarter. He has four points from the free-throw line.

Lakers vs. Thunder (First quarter 3:03 ) Lakers 20, Thunder 16

Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook hit a bank shot and a mid-range jumper just before a timeout to cut the Lakers’ lead to four points.

It’s not the start Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant wanted, missing his first five field goals, including one block by Ron Artest. His first four points all came on the free throw line.

Thunder forward Jeff Green found center Nenad Krstic for an open layup, and Krstic also hit a hook. Krstic leads the Thunder with six points.

Ron Artest, in another good sign for the Lakers, hit his first outside shot.

But Derek Fisher picked up his second personal and was replaced by Lamar Odom at the six-minute mark. Odom then missed his first two shots, but then his a three-pointer to quiet the crowd.

So far the Lakers have done a good job of slowing the Thunder’s fast break and Kobe Bryant has managed to stay in front of Russell Westbrook in a key defensive match-up.

Lakers vs. Thunder (First quarter, 7:18) Lakers 11, Thunder 4

Good start for the Lakers while the Thunder has been cold, missing nine of their 10 shots from the field.

Derek Fisher did a good job getting the ball to Andrew Bynum down low for a layup, and Bynum later hit a jumper from middle of the lane. Fisher also hit his first three-pointer.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant missed his first three shots from the field but drew a foul and hit both free throws.

Kobe Bryant has missed three of his first four shots.

Lakers vs. Thunder Game 6: Pregame

The Lakers were 6-5 on the road in last year’s playoffs, so far they are 0-2 in Oklahoma City in this year’s first-round series.

Oddsmakers Beted.com calls tonight’s Game 6 a pick ‘em, with neither team favored.

For the Thunder the questions include:

Can Russell Westbrook do a better job adjusting to Kobe Bryant’s defense? Can forward Jeff Green (shooting 29% from the field in the series) find his shooting touch? And can James Harden be a spark plug off the bench as he has in both games in Oklahoma City?

For the Lakers:

Can Lamar Odom find the basket? Can Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol generate another pair of double-doubles?

And if Utah eliminates Denver tonight, and the Lakers beat the Thunder, does Game 1 of the Lakers-Jazz series start Sunday at Staples Center?

--Barry Stavro


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