By Jovani Gama |Sports Editor|
With the Los Angeles Clippers breathing heavily on their backs, and the frightening possibility of facing the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs looming over their heads, the Los Angeles Lakers entered Sunday afternoon in a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder in what most would call a must win scenario.
The game was decided after two overtime sessions.
The Lakers ultimately prevailed with a 114–106 victory but their impressive victory was not the only thing that made headlines.
For one, the fact that the Lakers won the game was not as astonishing as the fact that they climbed a seemingly insurmountable mountain in order to do so. Trailing by as many as 18 points in the second half, the Lakers were able to battle back and eventually take the lead on an uncanny one-legged three-point basket by Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, who before the fourth quarter had shot only 3–14 against Thabo Sefolosha’s stingy defense, came alive in the fourth quarter once again, delivering improbable shot after shot.
He was unable to nail the potential go-ahead shot however, giving Kevin Durant and the Thunder a chance to win the game.
Durant had a decent look at a step-back three-pointer as time expired, but missed it short as the buzzer sounded to end regulation.
Both teams battled back and forth in the first overtime session as and once again the Thunder had a chance to leave Staples Center victorious.
However, after another failed three-point attempt, this time by Russell Westbrook, the game was allotted another five minutes in a second overtime.
The Lakers took advantage, pulling away from the Thunder and managing an eight-point victory.
As if their remarkable comeback wasn’t enough, the Lakers pulled off their run with a questionable lineup on the floor. The Lakers started the fourth quarter with a lineup that consisted of Steve Blake, Devin Ebanks and Jordan Hill.
Blake, Ebanks and Hill made excellent contributions while on the floor, and were rewarded by being granted the opportunity to play, not only the entire fourth quarter, but both overtime sessions as well.
Blake hit timely three-pointers, Ebanks played gritty defense against Durant and Hill impressively scored 15 huge points, while collecting 14 rebounds as well. Blake, Ebanks and Hill made the most of their opportunity and proved to be monumental in the Lakers’ victory.
While they left the courts in high spirits after their well-fought victory, not everything went according to plan for the Lakers.
During the second quarter, after electrifying the crowd with a breakaway dunk, Metta World Peace celebrated by thunderously beating his chest and James Harden’s head in the process.
Harden, who brushed past World Peace during his celebration, caught World Peace’s thick right elbow across the back of his head, near his neck area.
World Peace was ejected after receiving a flagrant two foul, and Harden was taken to the locker room where he was evaluated and deemed unable to play with concussion like symptoms. Although World Peace claimed that the hit was unintentional it was quite obvious that there was nothing peaceful about the action.
A suspension awaits from the commissioner’s office.