The Los Angeles Lakers looked like they were going to tie the series at 2-2, but another late comeback by the Oklahoma City Thunder has them in a 3-1 hole. Los Angeles had control for most of the game. That is until the Thunder went on a 24-8 run in the fourth quarter to win Game 4 103-100. The series is headed back to Oklahoma City for Game 5 on Monday. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 EST and will be televised nationally on TNT.
After Oklahoma City’s 29-point blowout win in Game 1, the last three games have all been decided by 3-points or less. Looking ahead to Game 5, the Thunder are favored by 8-points over the Lakers with the total set at 192 points.
The Lakers got another big offensive performance from Kobe Bryant, who had a game-high 38-points on 12 of 28 shooting. However, Bryant struggled when it mattered most in the fourth quarter. I personally think Kobe played good enough to win, but he was forced into taking a lot of very difficult shots.
The big question everyone is asking, is why did the Lakers go away from Andrew Bynum in the second half. Bynum ended up with 18 points and nine rebounds, but he had just four shot attempts in the the final two quarters. While Bynum wasn’t getting the ball, Pau Gasol had another disappointing playoff performance with just 10 points and five rebounds.
As good as Byrant was in Game 4, the Lakers season is going to be over on Monday if they don’t get Bynum and Gasol going for a full four quarters.They also have to do a better job of slowing down the pace. If the Thunder get to 100 points, I can’t see the Lakers winning on the road.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were both spectacular in Game 5. Westbrook did an amazing job keep the Thunder within striking distance. He had a team-high 37 points on 15 of 26 shooting, with most of those 37 points coming in the second half. Durant added 31 points, but none were bigger than the three-points he scored on a 3-pointer with just under 14 seconds to play. It gave the Thunder a 101-98 lead and a chance to close out the series at home on Monday.
Oklahoma City got a rare 14 points out of Serge Ibaka, and it came at the right time. James Harden has done a fantastic job of coming off the bench and giving the Thunder a lift, but he was held to just 12 points on 2 of 11 shooting. Harden is really struggled to find his shot in Los Angeles. In Games 3 and 4, he went just 6 of 24 from the field.
Even though the Thunder have a comfortable 3-1 series lead and just stole a game in Los Angeles, I think Game 5 is one they really need to win. The last thing they want to do is go back to Los Angeles for Game 6 and risk the chance of this series going to a Game 7. I personally think the Thunder will send the Lakers packing. I was impressed with how well the Lakers played on a back-to-back, but I think this team is going to really struggle to match the intensity of Oklahoma City in Game 5.