May 19, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) and Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16) go for the ball in the first half of game four in the Western Conference semi finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Game 5 Preview

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Oklahoma City Thunder will have a chance tonight at home to close out the Los Angeles Lakers and move on to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight season.

The Thunder are up 3-1 against the Lakers after coming back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit in Game 4 in Los Angeles.

The Thunder ended Game 4 on a 13-4 run to stun the Lakers crowd culminating with a very clutch Kevin Durant 3-pointer in the final seconds.

After the Thunder blew out L.A. in Game 1, the Lakers got their act together and really have played well in the past three games.

Kobe Bryant was a machine at home getting to the line 35 times and causing tremendous problems for the Thunder defense.

Kevin Durant was forced to switch onto Kobe in the final minutes of Game 4 and did a very good job using his length to make scoring more difficult for Kobe than it has been lately.

When Game 4 looked like it was the Lakers’ to win, Thunder fans were just itching to get back home and have this Thunder team look like the one that swept Dallas and blew out L.A. in Game 1.

Tonight, Oklahoma City gets to return to their comfortable arena and behind what will undoubtedly be a rowdy crowd, they should give the Lakers their best stuff.

The Thunder are unlikely to let this series slip away up 3-1 but they certainly don’t want to return to the Staples Center and risk this series possibly going to a seventh game.

The Lakers are championship tested however and should also give it all they’ve got in OKC tonight. Kobe called out Pau Gasol after Game 4 so expect a better game from Gasol who has bounced back already in these playoffs after bad games like he did in Game 7 against Denver.

The Thunder have weathered the storm of a former champion playing hard while facing elimination already in the first round.

The Dallas Mavericks led OKC at home by 13 heading into the fourth quarter of Game 4 facing elimination before James Harden scored 15 in the fourth and led the Thunder back to win the series.

The biggest change when this series went to L.A. was the calls favoring the Lakers. At home, the Thunder should start to see the calls swing back their way and if that is the case, it should become nearly impossible for the Lakers to pull off the upset.

The Thunder want to get this series over with as soon as possible too now that the San Antonio Spurs are waiting for them in the Western Conference Finals after completing the sweep of the Clippers last night.

The Thunder don’t have to win tonight but they don’t look at it that way and that’s why the Thunder have been so good all year long and why they should win tonight.

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Tags: Game 5 James Harden Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers NBA Playoffs Oklahoma City Thunder Pau Gasol San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Semifinals

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