If it looked like most of this game was played from the charity stripe, well, there were a lot of fouls “How many times is he going to get bailed out tonight?” asked radio guy Matt Pinto about Kobe Bryant and therefore a lot of free throws. (By “a lot,” I mean 70.) And the lead went back and forth, back and forth, all through the fourth quarter, but “favorable officiating,” in Pinto’s words, made the difference, as the Lakers won it, 99-96.
Well, even if the players weren’t wearing their Braille numbers, L. A. did go 41-42 from the foul line. (OKC was 26-28.) And if Kobe missed 16 of 25 from the floor, he hit 18 in a row from the stripe for a game-high 36. In fact, all the Lakers starters ended up in double figures, though the bench posted only 14 points, 12 of them by Steve Blake. (Aside: Whoever made the death threats against Blake and his family on Twitter please die in a fire.) Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol reeled in eleven boards each, contributing to a 44-37 rebounding advantage for L. A.
The Thunder shot marginally better 40 percent versus 39 though nobody was doing particularly well from beyond the arc. Russell Westbrook and James Harden each contributed 21 points; Kevin Durant came up with 31. Their ball control was pretty good: only 11 turnovers on the night. (The Lakers coughed it up 15 times.) And there was a bit of weirdness at the end, when Durant clanged a trey that would have tied the game, and Serge Ibaka rose for a stickback that wouldn’t have. Scott Brooks must have facepalmed at that.
The only thing we know for sure now is that there will be a Game 5 at the Peake. First, though, comes Game 4, tomorrow night in L. A., presumably with a different officiating crew, possibly with peripheral vision.