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Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers watches during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 21, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ season came to an end Monday night after a 106-90 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5. The Thunder won the series 4-1 and will go on to face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
“Beat LA,” that was the chant echoing through Oklahoma City when game 5 tipped off.
Both teams got off to ugly starts, taking and missing low-percentage shots. The Lakers’ shooting woes extended to the free throw line.
In an emotional 12 minutes, Jordan Hill got three fouls and Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant each picked up two for the Lakers while Russell Westbrook got a technical foul for the Thunder. Westbrook and Durant finally got a fast break to take a 12-11 lead.
Coming off the bench, James Harden made his presence known by draining a huge 3-pointer with just over 3 minutes remaining.
Chesapeake Energy Arena, filled with novelty Harden beards, erupted with joy. Harden’s 7 points helped OKC to build a 5-point lead with the score 26-21 at the end of the quarter. Kobe Bryant went off, leading all scorers with 15 of LA’s 21 points.
The second quarter began smoothly. The Lakers shot 4/5 and the Thunder 3/4 to start the quarter. Ramon Sessions found Bynum for an alley-oop one minute in. With Bryant on the bench, LA went on a 14-6 run to stay in the game. With Bryant back, OKC went on an 8-0 run in the middle of the quarter.
At the halfway point, Derrick Fisher hit a three with Bryant running at him. Gasol showed that he came to play by going over Perkins with 5 minutes left in the half. With 4 minutes to go, Metta World Peace hit a layup to cut the deficit to one. The crowd responded with a shower of boos, likely because of MWP’s regular season elbow to James Harden’s temple.
Bryant hammered down an authoritative dunk to take a 47-46 lead with 3 minutes 30 seconds left. Gasol continued to be a major factor in the second quarter by feeding Bryant an alley-oop pass and then getting a three-point play opportunity to take back the one-point lead with just over a minute remaining.
With less than a minute remaining, MWP was issued a flagrant foul for what appeared to be a hard, but clean, block. This led to two Laker technical fouls, one to MWP and one to Bryant. Those free throws allowed the Thunder to go into half time with a 54-51 lead.
Bryant led all scorers once again with 19. Gasol contributed 10 points and 9 rebounds. Overall, the Lakers shot 48 percent while the Thunder shot 39 percent from the floor. Harden continued to lead OKC with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
The third quarter started with Bynum collecting his fourth personal foul less than a minute in. Gasol continued to help the Lakers stay alive by reaching a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
In the first five minutes of the quarter, the lead changed six times – largely due to the fact that the Lakers came out shooting 67 percent from the field.
Bryant extended LA’s lead to two by stealing and going coast to coast. Nick Collison refused to let that stand and dunked to tie it at 70 with just over four minutes left in the quarter.
Westbrook picked off a pass and completed a three-point play to make it a three-point Thunder lead. MWP drained a three to tie it back up with just over three minutes to go.
With a minute and a half left, Westbrook completed another three-point play to make it a seven-point OKC lead. The Thunder went on a 14-3 run near the end of the quarter, attributed to Westbrook’s 12-point quarter.
The Lakers failed to get off a second buzzer beater, and the score going into the final quarter saw OKC on top 83-77. Bryant continued his scoring rampage with 34 and Westbrook led the Thunder with 20.
The Thunder came out looking to dominate the fourth quarter. They instantly caught fire with an 11-0 run to start. Four minutes in, OKC had stretched their lead to 15. It never came close as the Thunder outscored the Lakers 23-13 in the final quarter for a 106-90 OKC win.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 42 points but got no help as Westbrook and Durant had 28 and 25 respectively.