The Los Angeles Lakers made 41 free throws as they beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-96 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Kobe Bryant scored 36 points, went 9-for-25 from the field and 18-of-18 at the line to lead the Lakers.
Kevin Durant had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but did not get the roll as he was forced into a tough 28-footer over two defenders. Durant finished the game with 31 points to lead the Thunder.
The game was called close from the start. Like Game 2, the referees were not letting the players play too much and it resulted in a ton of foul calls and a lot of them off the ball.
James Harden picked up three fouls in the first half for the second straight game after providing the Thunder with a much needed lift in the first half to get them back in the game. Harden scored 21 points in the game and made 11-of-12 free throws himself.
Russell Westbrook stripped Kobe and went in for a fast break dunk with 2:54 left to put the Thunder ahead 92-87. The Lakers would made 10 more free throws after that play to come back and win.
Westbrook found himself switched onto Kobe after an offensive rebound by Los Angeles and bit on a Kobe baseline ball fake that resulted in a huge trip to the charity stripe where Kobe put LA back up 95-94.
The Thunder ran Durant in a pick-and-roll on the following possession and he ended up passing to Serge Ibaka in the corner for a contested jump shot. Durant got the offensive board but was then stripped by Metta World Peace with 12 seconds left.
Oklahoma City could have won this game and had opportunities to close it out. The bounces and calls didn’t go their way down the stretch though and that can be all it takes sometimes.
The loss if the first this postseason for the Thunder. The Thunder get a chance to act some revenge on this loss tomorrow night. The tip will again be at 10:30 p.m. EST.