The 1 That Got Away (from the Lakers)

Somewhere in Los Angeles, Katy Perry is dedicating one of her hit songs to the Los Angeles Lakers: The One That Got Away.

Game 2 of their best of seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Oklahoma City Thunder was right in the Lakers’ hands. They were presented with all opportunities to tie the series at one game apiece. But did they capitalize? No, they let it slip away from them.

It was a 75-68 game in favor of the boys from Long Beach with 2:08 left in the game. The way OKC played the whole second half, I thought they were definitely done for the game. The Lakers were rolling,  Kobe was hitting his Kobe shots, and the Thunder just can’t make any. All signs pointed towards a Game 3 in LA with the series tied at 1.

That’s when the Thunder started rumbling.

Sixth man of the year James Harden ignited Oklahoma City with a hard drive to the basket for a layup. On the Lakers’ next possession, Durant came up with the steal for a fastbreak dunk. Their next two possessions ended with a turnover and a blocked shot, respectively. Another score by Harden and all of a sudden, it was just a one-point LA  lead with less than a minute to go.

Lightning struck afterwards.

Kevin Durant receives the ball on top of the arc from Russell Westbrook with 26 seconds left. Metta World Peace, probably the Lakers’ best defender, was guarding him. Kendrick Perkins sets a screen on World Peace, giving  Durant space to drive to his right. He attacks the basket, easily going by Andrew Bynum. He was now driving at the right baseline, with the last line of the LA defense being Pau Gasol. Durant lobs up a floater, Pau challenges him. A roll, a bounce, swish. And the crowd erupts.

Durantula stings the Lakers. It was now 76-75 for Oklahoma City. 18.6 seconds left.

For 13 seconds the Lakers held the ball on their next possesion before Thabo Sefolosha committed a foul to give on Kobe. Perfect timing on the foul too, as he committed it with time winding down, and with Kobe on his way to the basket.

But there was still 5.7 ticks on the clock. The game isn’t over yet, not with Kobe in it.

World Peace was set to inbound the ball. Steve  Blake, guarded by Westbrook, rushed to the near corner. Westbrook, as Reggie Miller said in the broadcast, was caught sleeping in the play. He did not go after Blake, instead giving up a wide, wide open three pointer.

The Lakers, once again, let the win get away. You can’t miss wide open threes in the Playoffs, especially in close games. And most especially if that shot spells the difference between winning and losing. And the difference between going back to Staples Center tied at 1 or down 2-0.

Had that shot gone in, though, everything will be pinned on Russell Westbrook. And it won’t be surprising if the Lakers play ‘The One That Got Away’ on the PA system to introduce Westbrook.

This series looks bleak for the Lakers. Games 3 and 4 will be on back-to-back days. Seven games for Denver, a right-down-to-the-wire Game 2. The Lakers are tired. This series might get away from them, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it does.

 

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