They’re nothing if not resilient, these Lakers.
Pretty good at the free-throw line, too.
Some how, some way, the Lakers found a way to scratch out a 99-96 victory over the younger and more athletic Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series Friday night at Staples Center.
The Lakers made 41 of 42 from the line, including two each from Metta World Peace and Kobe Bryant to hold off the Thunder in the closing seconds and narrow their deficit in the best-of-7 series to 2-1. Game 4 is tonight at Staples Center.
Bryant scored a team-leading 36 points, making 18 of 18 from the line. Andrew Bynum added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Pau Gasol, Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake each added 12 points for the Lakers.
Kevin Durant scored 31 for the Thunder, but missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the score at 99-all inside the final three seconds.
The Thunder led 92-87 with 2:41 remaining and the Lakers clinging to life. The Lakers had erased a five-point deficit for an 83-all tie moments earlier only to see the Thunder surge in front again. Then the Lakers fought back to within 88-87.
Kendrick Perkins sank two free throws and Russell Westbrook stole the ball from Bryant and scored on a dunk to make it 92-87. The Lakers rallied one more time, taking a 93-93 after Bryant sank two free throws with 1:09 remaining.
Kevin Durant responded with a jumper to put the Thunder back in front.
Bryant gave the Lakers 95-94 lead with two free throws with 33.8 seconds left.