Steve Blake is being destroyed in the social media landscape after missing a potential game-winning shot in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City. It was a wide-open look on an inbounds pass from Metta World Peace in the corner. Blake caught and shot, just as he’d done with sharpshooter precision in Game 7 of the first round, but it clanked off of the rim. Pundits and fans were in disbelief, and Kobe Bryant was clearly perturbed by the play from start to finish.
Bryant could not break free to get a look, thereby forcing World Peace to seek an alternate option. He made the right pass. It was an uncontested shot. Blake caught it cleanly and got his shot off. He just flat-out missed it. Durant rebounded the ball and was fouled.
The Lakers carried a slim three-point lead into the fourth quarter, and Mike Brown’s defense effectively kept the Thunder out of the paint and off of the glass. Oklahoma City settled for jumpers time and again … until it counted. James Harden then made several drives into the lane to close the gap and ultimately set up the final sequence that will be dissected 1,000,000 ways tomorrow.
Los Angeles nearly evened the series and stole home field advantage despite shooting just 38.5% from the field and converting 2-of-15 three-point attempts. Bryant shot just 9-of-25, including 0-for-6 from three-point range, and attempted two free throws (2-for-2). He finished the night with 20 points. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for 34 points and 20 rebounds.
Bryant committed a pair of critical turnovers down the stretch that will be the subject of much scrutiny, and he was actually working away from the basket on the inbounds play that resulted in the Steve Blake shot.
The Lakers failed to score in their final six possessions and settled for a number of long jumpshots.
It will be a long flight back to Los Angeles, where the Lakers will host the Thunder for back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night.