Saturday, 19 May 2012
Kobe Bryant shot a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line and had a game-high 36 points as the Los Angeles Lakers beat Oklahoma City 99-96 to hand the Thunder their first loss of the 2012 playoffs.
Pau Gasol finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Ramon Sessions came off the bench to score 12 points for the Lakers, who cut the Thunder's series lead to 2-1.
All five starters reached double figures in scoring on Friday for Los Angeles, who shot a superb 41-of-42 from the free-throw line.
"Two games in a row, we controlled the tempo," Bryant said.
"We just tried to be aggressive, driving to the basket and protecting the ball because they got quick hands."
A change of scenery proved to be just what the doctor ordered for the Lakers as they looked like a different team on their home court than the first two games of the series, when they lost by 29 points in game one and let game two slip away down the stretch.
The Lakers have little time to celebrate Friday's win as the two teams are back at Staples Center arena for game four on Saturday in the first back-to-back set of the Western Conference second-round series.
Thunder forward Kevin Durant had 31 points in the loss but missed a potential tying three-pointer on the game's final possession.
The Lakers still have their work cut out in the series, and especially Saturday's game four, as they try to prevent Oklahoma City taking a split of the two games in Los Angeles.
The Lakers are just 2-17 when losing the opening two games of a best-of-seven series.
In Pennsylvania, Andre Iguodala finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists as the Philadelphia 76ers rallied to beat the Boston Celtics 92-83 in game four of their Eastern Conference series.
Evan Turner also had 16 points and Lou Williams finished with 15 points and eight assists for the Sixers who levelled the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Philadelphia rallied from 18 points down at one point to win it down the stretch, scoring the final nine points of the game.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 24 points and Rajon Rondo finished with 15 points and 15 assists for Boston who lost two of three games to the Sixers during the regular season.
The Celtics scored the first 14 points of the game and led by 15 at halftime.
Fifth seeded Boston have won five straight Atlantic Division crowns since bringing in future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to team with Pierce. They punched their ticket to the second round by eliminating fourth-seeded Atlanta in six games.
Philadelphia also advanced in six games, becoming just the fifth eight-seed in NBA history to dispose of a No.1 by ousting the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls.
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