Down 2-0, Lakers Return Home To Face Thunder In Game 3

2012 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals Game 3
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder at #3 Los Angeles Lakers
Best of Seven Series Format 2-2-1-1-1
Staples Center – Los Angeles, California
Friday, May 18, 2012, 10:35 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Los Angeles -2 1/2
Current Line: Los Angeles -2 1/2
Opening Total: 194
Current Total: 190 1/2
Opening Money Line: Lakers -140 / Thunder +120
Current Money Line: Lakers -145 / Thunder +125

The Lakers face a must win game as they are down 2-0 in the series against the Thunder. The Lakers are 2.5 point favorites at home in game 3.

Two minutes. That is all it took for this series to take a dramatic turn. With two minutes to go in game #2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the LA Lakers led 75-68 on the road at the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, the Thunder closed on a 9-0 run to win 77-75. The improbable comeback gave the Thunder a 2-0 series lead after OKC routed the Lakers 119-90 in game #1.

Now the Lakers, coached by Mike Brown, return home to the Staples Center and face a must win game. The Staples Center will be very busy as the Lakers, Clippers, and NHL’s Kings are all hosting 2 playoff games in a four day stretch that started last night with the Kings’ 2-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Game 4 of the Lakers-Thunder Series will be tomorrow night. Back-to-backs are very rare in the playoffs these days, but both the Clippers-Spurs and Lakers-Thunder series will be back to back.

In game 2 between Oklahoma City and Los Angeles both teams struggled to shoot the ball. The Lakers shot 38.5% from the field including 2-15 from 3 point range. The Thunder weren’t much better shooting 42% from the field and 6-17 from 3 point range. Before the rally the Thunder missed 20 of their first 27 shots in the second half. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks called a timeout after Lakers center  Andrew Bynum made a lay-up to give the Lakers the largest lead of the game 75-68 with 2 minutes to go.

From that point on, OKC made several defensive stops to make the comeback. After Kevin Durant scored the go ahead basket with 18 seconds left, the Lakers inbounded. The Thunder had a foul to give and used it with 9 seconds left. After a time-out, Lakers forward Metta World Peace threw the ball to  Steve Blake who missed a wide open 3 pointer after Russell Westbrook forgot to guard him. Many thought Kobe Bryant should have taken that shot but he was double teamed.

Kobe scored 20 points, and added 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Bryant was 9 for 25 shooting from the field, and 0-6 from 3 point range. Bryant also had 2 costly turnovers late in the game that allowed Oklahoma City to come back. Bynum had 20 points and 9 rebounds. He shot 8-19 from the field. Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds. World peace added 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and3 steals. The rest of the Lakers only scored  13 combined points. The Lakers made 13 of 14 free throws. LA had 41 rebounds, 11 assists, and 12 turnovers. The Lakers had 5 fast break points and 46 points in the paint.

Durant led all scorers with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. He was 9-15 from the field including 1-4 from 3 point range. Westbrook had 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. He was 5-17 shooting from the field. James Harden scored 13 points off the bench. Serge Ibaka had 8 points and 7 blocks. No other Thunder player had more than 6 points. The Thunder made 13 of 16 free throws. OKC had 36 rebounds, 15 assists, and 13 turnovers. The Thunder had 18 fast break points, and 34 points in the paint.

Oklahoma City is 38-34 ATS and the total is 33-39 this season. Los Angeles is 32-43 ATS and the total is 41-33-1 this season. The favorite is 8-4 ATS in the last twelve in this series.

The Thunder are 4-1 ATS in road games, 4-10 against teams with winning records, 1-4 after failing to cover, and on one day rest.

The Lakers are 5-0 as a home favorite of 4.5 points or less, 6-1 after a straight up loss, 7-17 on one day rest, 5-13 at home, 6-18 as a favorite, 4-12 as a home favorite, 5-16 as a cover, 1-5 in Friday games, and in conference semifinals.

The key to this game is the outside shooting for the Lakers. If they can make  3 pointers consistently like they did in the Denver series, then it opens up the lane for the Laker bigs Bynum and Gasol. I think both teams will shoot a lot better tonight, but the Lakers must keep it a half court game, because they will get run  out of the building like they did in game 1 if they allow the Thunder to get fast break chances. I think the Lakers win a close game tonight at home.

Our NBA handicappers are crushing the sports books in the playoffs. Don’t miss out on any more winners from now until the Finals in June.



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