The Lakers blew an opportunity to tie up their second round playoff series with the Thunder on Wednesday. Los Angeles gave up nine unanswered points to end the game as they lost to Oklahoma city 77-75.
L.A. struggled to put up points down the stretch, not scoring in the final two minutes and eight seconds of the contest. The Lakers scored just 12 points in the fourth quarter and 30 for the entire second half.
There is a lot of blame to be passed around, but Kobe Bryant may be the biggest culprit.
Bryant missed a number of big shots down the stretch of the game, and turned the ball over, leading to OKC points. Kobe made three straight miscues that led to six quick points by the Thunder.
Up 75-70, Bryant committed a turnover, which Kevin Durant immediately turned into a dunk. On the next two Laker possessions, Bryant badly missed two shots, and Oklahoma City scored each time they got the ball. Bryant took difficult shots, instead of looking to the get the ball inside to either Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum.
Kobe's unwillingness to give up the ball in crunch time was never more evident than the Lakers possession at the end of Game 2.
Metta World Peace inbounded the ball to point guard Steve Blake for an open three-pointer with Los Angeles down by one. Blake's miss essentially ended the Lakers chances of winning, and Bryant was visibly upset that he didn't take the last shot.
Bryant didn't say that he was upset in the postgame press conference, but it's not hard to figure out why he wasn't happy.
Even though Bryant is the Lakers best scorer, he isn't their best scorer in crunch time.
Despite his reputation, Bryant hasn't succeeded at the end of games. According to ESPN, the shooting guard is 0-7 on game-tying and go-ahead shots in the final 10 seconds of playoff games since the 2006-07 Season.
Andrew Bynum has actually fared a lot better in late-game situations.
Even before the final two minutes of Game 2, Bryant didn't play very well. He scored 20 points on just 9-25 shooting, and missed all of his six three-point attempts.
If the Lakers want any chance of beating the Thunder and advancing to the Western Conference Finals, Bryant will have to stop trying to win games by himself.
The Thunder and Lakers will face off in Game 3 in Los Angeles on Friday night.