GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Oklahoma City Thunder 26 28 29 23 106
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 21 30 26 13 90




Thunder surge past Lakers 106-90 to win West semis

By JEFF LATZKE


Posted May 21 2012 9:33PM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Russell Westbrook scored 28 points, Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder surged ahead in the second half to beat Los Angeles 106-90 in Game 5 on Monday night and eliminate the Lakers from the playoffs.

The two All-Stars both bypassed their breaks in the second half and used the time they'd normally be resting to fuel the big run that put away the game and end the Lakers' season.

Westbrook had a pair of three-point plays during a 14-3 burst that put Oklahoma City ahead to stay late in the third quarter, and Durant hit two 3-pointers as the Thunder scored the first 10 points of the fourth to push their lead to 93-77.

Kobe Bryant scored 42 points for the Lakers.

The Thunder open the Western Conference finals on Sunday at top-seeded San Antonio.

After getting eliminated by Los Angeles in 2010 and Dallas in 2011 before both of those teams went on to win it all, the Thunder knocked both out on their way to the West finals for the second straight year.

The only other time the franchise made consecutive conference finals was from 1978-80, including Seattle's only NBA title in 1979.

Once there, they'll face the top-seeded Spurs, the only team other than the Lakers or Mavs to win the West in the past 13 years and currently riding an 18-game winning streak.

Westbrook went running to the scorer's table and pumped his fist in the air after his first energizing three-point play, when he was able to flip the ball in after Ramon Sessions fouled him on the fast break.

He converted another after banking in a jumper from the left side despite Sessions slapping him on the arm to make it 82-76 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.

Durant extended the lead with a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth and then hit another 32 seconds later - just after Bryant had stepped to the scorer's table to check in after a brief rest.

There was little Bryant could do after he got back in, despite the 13th 40-point game of his playoff career.

After blowing a fourth-quarter lead in Game 4, Bryant had called out forward Pau Gasol to be more aggressive - much as he had with Gasol and Andrew Bynum before the Lakers faced elimination in Game 7 of the first round against Denver.

Gasol came through with a monster game - 23 points, 17 rebounds and six assists - and Steve Blake scored a playoff career-best 19 points to save the Lakers that time. Bryant didn't get nearly as much help against the Thunder.

Gasol took 14 shots, his most of the series, but made only five to finish with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Metta World Peace scored 11 and Bynum 10.

The Thunder got five of their first eight baskets on dunks and controlled the boards early on, grabbing 16 of the game's first 22 rebounds while keeping Los Angeles off the offensive glass for the first 11 minutes.

Bryant had to create all of the offense, scoring 15 of the Lakers' first 19 points and getting all six of his baskets without the benefit of an assist. When others started chipping in, the Lakers went on a 16-7 run to go up 35-32 following Bynum's three-point play.

Oklahoma City scored the next eight points, including James Harden's fast-break dunk, before Bryant got past him for a pair of dunks of his own - the first a driving, two-handed reverse jam and the second a two-handed alley-oop slam over Harden.

But Bryant and World Peace both drew technical fouls as the Lakers lost their cool with 31.9 seconds left before halftime when World Peace was called for a flagrant foul against Thabo Sefolosha on a fast break. World Peace used his right hand to strip the ball from Sefolosha as he went up to the basket but then shoved him out of bounds with his left hand.

Sefolosha hit both free throws and Durant capitalized on both shots from the technicals World Peace and Bryant got for arguing the flagrant call to put the Thunder 54-51 ahead at halftime despite shooting less than 40 percent.

Notes: The Lakers had baskets just after the buzzer at the end of the second and third quarters that both got reviewed on instant replay. ... Westbrook got a technical foul for cursing at an official after a no-call midway through the first quarter. ... The Thunder's Nick Collison needed stitches to close a cut on the back of his head that he sustained during Game 4. ... Los Angeles is 10-3 when Bryant scored 40 points in the playoffs, losing both times he did it this season.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited





View More Photos


Points Bryant 42, 18-33
Rebounds Gasol 16, 2 OFF 14 DEF
Assists World Peace 5
Steals Bynum/World Peace 2
Blocks Gasol 3


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

Opening Statement:
“We have to give Oklahoma City credit. They did a heck of a job this entire series. They did a great job of closing games. At the end of the games, including tonight’s game they stepped up their physicality. We didn’t do a good job of executing. We scored basically 11 points in the fourth quarter. All of the stuff we did in the first three quarters, just like all the stuff we did in the first three quarter in games two and four, went out the window in the fourth quarter execution wise offensively.”

On Oklahoma City’s fast-break points:
“Their ability to offensively rebound early on, and our inability to offensively rebound the whole game, coupled with their fast-break points, is what did us in. Their fast-break point is what did us in. They averaged 18 fast-break points a game. To get 30 in a playoff game is tough to handle. It’s tough to swallow.”

On the play by the “bigs”:
“One thing I do know, just by looking at the box score is that Andrew (Bynum) played 34 minutes and he had four boards and no offensive rebounds. Pau (Gasol) had two offensive rebounds. I know we’re asking our “bigs” to do a lot but I know for sure we could have gotten more scoring from those two guys in the offensive rebounding category or area. Obviously, if you look at our bench, our bench scored two field goals. We could have gotten more from our bench not only field goal wise, our bench had two total rebounds.”




Pau Gasol:

How difficult was it to lose this series?
“It hurts when you lose and it’s not like we lost but this team always has a huge desire and goal to win the championship and when you fall short it’s frustrating. It has been a crazy year and a lot to deal with…Unfortunately we had tough loses, and things didn’t really go our way for the most part. You just have to regroup and digest this lost and this season and learn from it and move on.”




Metta World Peace:

Thoughts on the series?
“Let’s give some credit to Oklahoma. They were the better team. They did well…We knocked them out a couple years ago, but we are going to keep working this summer to get better.”

On how the team will improve this summer:
“Well I am not the general manager or owner so I am not going to try and make decisions for them. But speaking for the guys that is in this locker room that we love; if you look at the games we lost this year, Washington, no disrespecting those teams, Detroit last place teams. I think we were six games out of first place this year. We lost a lot of games that we shouldn’t have lost, and I started out the year horrible. I was averaging about two points and had no life. All those negatives that happened to us, I am coming back better next year. Guys that come back better we can get some of those games and who knows at the end of the season maybe we will be tied for first and it will be a different ball game. But with that said, those guys play well.”




Kobe Bryant:

What were you feeling in the fourth quarter?
“Obviously I was in a good rhythm. That’s what we do. We have to trust that you can come in out in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma kind of blitzes their side of the court.”

On Pau Gasol:
“I thought he was aggressive. I thought he took shots. I felt like he drove the ball and had opportunities…All in all I thought he took shots when he was available.”




Scott Brooks:

Opening Statement:
“Well, I’d like to just acknowledge Coach (Mike) Brown. One of the things that he should be proud of in this short season that he did not have the time to have a training camp or even have time to talk to his players over the summer. The way the season went, I think he deserves a lot of credit. They competed all year. With that being said, I’m really happy for our guys. They did a good job of really focusing in and locking in on the defensive end. I thought we won this series on the defensive end of the floor. We can play different ways and different styles of basketball. But the fact of the matter is, if we don’t play defense, it doesn’t matter how well we do offensive; we’re not going to be successful. Our guys did a great job of really competing and making it a possession-by-possession game.”

On Perkins, Ibaka and Collison:
“I thought they were the Big Three. The Lakers’ bigs are as good as any bigs in basketball. They’re big, they can score, they block shots and contest the paint. The way Perk (Kendrick Perkins) battled, obviously he’s coming off of his injury and competing every day with it. We’re all proud of him. Nick (Collison) and Serge (Ibaka) did a good job. When Naz (Nazr Mohammed) was in the game, he did a good job also. They’ve always been our unsung heroes. They compete on the defensive side of the floor and they help our guys score on the other end by setting good screens on the offensive end.”

On decision to start 4th quarter with Durant and Westbrook:
“Well, it’s a decision I usually don’t make throughout the season, but I felt that with the days off between games and the long timeouts that they can handle the extra 4 to 5 minutes that they would normally get a break during that time. Usually I do it with Kevin and not Russell, because the point guard takes so much physical effort to play both ends of the floor and the mental part of the game. So I usually give him (Russell Westbrook) a break. But I thought with the long timeouts and the way he was playing tonight that there was no reason for me to take him out. He would have enough energy to finish the game off.”

On the bench points and rebounding:
“Well, that was our big concern going into this series. We know that this team can get a lot of offensive rebounds and putbacks and easy buckets for their team by going to the offensive glass. I think we gave up three tonight. Never would I have thought that it would only have been three. That’s incredible. All five guys did a good job of blocking out and keeping the ball away from their team after we made them miss. Our bench was good. Nick was really good. He was banging, he was setting screens, he was rebounding and he was keeping balls active. That’s what we want from our guys. James (Harden) came in and I thought James had a really good controlled game, and we needed it.”

On the preparedness and experience of the team going into the Western Conference Finals:
“It does help. Experience is always important in this league, but you also have to have good talent, have to have good players, and you have to have a team that competes and that are self motivated. We have a group of guys that do that every single day. They practice like they play, shoot arounds, film sessions; it doesn’t matter. The experience that we had last year can help, but we still have to go out and execute the game plan and play well and get some defensive possessions and make shots. We know that San Antonio is probably playing the best basketball for the last three months of this season. They’ve won just about every game.”




Kevin Durant:

Thoughts on the play of the big men tonight and throughout the series:
“They have been fighting all series. They (Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins) are one of the best big-man tandems in the game. I think ever big did well tonight, and us guards and forwards did our part to help them. They did bang all series and you have to tip your hat to them.”

Thoughts on fourth quarter play the last two games:
“Well, we know that is the most important part of the game and I think we kept our composure in the fourth quarter and made plays on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. And we believe, even if we’re down or even have the lead, we still wanted to play the right way and the right basketball.”




Russell Westbrook:

Thoughts on the series:
“That was a tough team. They were not laying down. We had to come together as better teammates and we did that tonight. From the middle of the third quarter till the end of the game, we all did our jobs.”

Thoughts on the fans:
“These fans have taken us on a ride. They have been supportive from day one since I have been here. We have the best fans in the league and they have been doing that for us all season long. Tonight, they did it again and we know they will continue to do it.”




James Harden:

How proud are you of your team in this close-out situation?:
“I’m very proud of the Thunder, just from top to bottom. Russell [Westbrook] in the second half was amazing. The bigs’ defense was phenomenal. KD [Kevin Durant] hit two big threes. The team effort was amazing and we needed it.”

Why was it important to finish off the series tonight in five games?:
“We didn’t want to go back to L.A. and have to win it in L.A. because that would be tough to do in the Staples Center. We didn’t want to put it in other peoples’ hands. We wanted to control [the game], play well and we did that in the third and fourth quarters.”






Lakers - Thunder Preview

By JEFF LATZKE


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) After chasing championships for so many years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Derek Fisher now finds himself standing squarely in their way.

Fisher joined up with the Oklahoma City Thunder after getting traded away by the Lakers during the season, choosing to buy out of his own contract with the Houston Rockets and sign with a team he thought had a chance of winning the NBA title.

Fisher has already won five championship rings with the Lakers, but now his new team is a victory away from knocking Los Angeles out of the playoffs. The Thunder get their first chance in Game 5 Monday night in Oklahoma City.

Fisher has had to put his personal friendship with Kobe Bryant on hold during the series. The two greeted each other the first time Fisher came off the bench and checked in during Game 1 but otherwise are adversaries as long as the Western Conference semifinals go on.

"As much history as we have, there's no holding back in terms of trying to advance to win the championship," Fisher said. "Personal friends or brothers or however close you are to somebody, it's about winning. He knows that better than anybody.

"I learned that and accomplished that right alongside with him, and so we feel the same way."

Fisher played with Los Angeles for 12 1/2 of his 16 NBA seasons, and the only other time he made the playoffs with another team was in 2007 with Utah. But the Jazz didn't face the Lakers.

Los Angeles sent Fisher away at the trade deadline in March, when they added a first-round draft pick, point guard Ramon Sessions and backup forward Jordan Hill to try and improve for the stretch run. The 37-year-old Fisher chose his age as his jersey number with the Thunder, trying to make a statement that he could still play.

Statistically, Fisher has struggled in the series. He has averaged just over four points and one assist per game and his playing time has been cut back. Fisher's plus-minus is the worst of any Oklahoma City player, with the Lakers outscoring the Thunder by 12 points while he's on the court.

Yet coach Scott Brooks believes there's another way to measure the impact of Fisher, who has never put up big numbers - averaging 8.6 points and 3.1 assists - over his career.

"He loves the game, he has passion for the game and he's a winner," Brooks said Sunday after Oklahoma City flew back home, landing after 5 a.m. because of thunderstorms. "I can never emphasize that enough: He's a winner, and you can never have enough of those on your team. He has won before. He has won at a high level and many championships."

Before the series started, Fisher informed Oklahoma City of the Lakers' tendencies. During games, he has regularly pulled aside teammates for a few words of guidance. One of L.A.'s locker room leaders is now working for the enemy.

"Leadership, you can't put a win total on it but you know the effect that it's having on our guys," Brooks said. "He talks, he communicates, he's a great leader. He's going to be a great leader in whatever profession he chooses after basketball."

Perhaps his biggest contribution yet that has counted in the box score was a 3-pointer that sparked the Thunder's comeback from a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit in Game 4. Oklahoma City was down 91-78 with 8 minutes left before Fisher hit only his second basket of the game.

"It was huge. It cut it to 10. That's just kind of like that magical number. It always seems to be in reach if you can get it to 10 or under," Brooks said. "That shot was big."

Lakers coach Mike Brown said he thought at the time of the trade that his team might miss Fisher's leadership, experience, toughness and intelligence. But he never envisioned Sessions, who is 11 years younger, simply replacing Fisher.

"The roles are different," Brown said. "Derek Fisher was our starter. Derek Fisher for these guys is a backup. I don't think you compare the two situations because we were relying on him for a completely different role than what Oklahoma City is relying on him for.

"I don't know if anybody would disagree the combination of starting (All-Star Russell) Westbrook and Derek Fisher as a backup is a pretty good combination because you're young plus you're experienced."

Bryant poked fun at Fisher, calling him a "midget" after he was able to hit shots over him when they ended up matched up against each other briefly in the fourth quarter. Bryant says Fisher never beat him at one-on-one in nearly 13 years together with the Lakers.

But team against team, Fisher may finally get some bragging rights on Bryant for they get back to being friends.

"At some point, we'll reconnect and be what we always will be," Fisher said, "and that's brothers."


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

5/19/12
L OKC 103, LAL 100
5/18/12
W LAL 99, OKC 96
5/16/12
L OKC 77, LAL 75
5/14/12
L OKC 119, LAL 90
5/12/12
W LAL 96, DEN 87
Probable Starters
Lakers
#15 World Peace SF #35 Durant
#16 Gasol PF #9 Ibaka
#17 Bynum C #5 Perkins
#24 Bryant SG #2 Sefolosha
#7 Sessions PG #0 Westbrook



Lakers Matt Barnes
(sprained right ankle) is probable.
Devin Ebanks
(middle & ring finger contusions, left hand) is probable.

Eric Maynor
(torn right ACL is out.
Kendrick Perkins
(right hip muscle strain) is day-to-day.


PLAYOFF SERIES
Game 1: 5/14 - LAL @ OKC L 119-90
Game 2: 5/16 - LAL @ OKC L 77-75
Game 3: 5/18 - OKC @ LAL W 99-96
Game 4: 5/19 - OKC @ LAL L 103-100
Game 5: 5/21 - LAL @ OKC
* Game 6: 5/23 - OKC @ LAL
* Game 7: 5/27 - LAL @ OKC
REGULAR SEASON
Game 1: 2/23- LAL @ OKC L 100-85
Game 2: 3/29- OKC @ LAL L 102-93
Game 3: 4/22 - OKC @ LAL W 114-106


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