Thunder tie series with Lakers Roy's return spurs Blazers past Suns
Magic set to make Bobcats disappear
Bucks ground Hawks to trail series, 2-1
By JEFF LATZKE
OKLAHOMA CITY — At the time last summer when Kevin Durant suggested the Oklahoma City Thunder should be shooting for the playoffs this season, it was considered an outlandish statement.
But look at them now.
Durant scored 22 points, Russell Westbrook added 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Thunder evened the first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers with a 110-89 victory in Game 4 last night.
"A lot of people didn't expect us to be here and once we got here, people were saying we were going to get swept and a lot of different things," Durant said. "We knew what we were capable of and how hard we play every day and how hard we practice every day.
"With those attributes, I think that we can go far as a team. It's all on us. We control our own destiny at this point."
For the second straight game, the Thunder capitalized on a significant edge at the foul line and on the boards despite the presence of the Lakers' 7-foot tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Oklahoma City never trailed after the opening 5 minutes and led by double digits for the final three quarters in a thorough dismantling.
"This is as big as a game can possibly be," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "You're playing against one of the best teams in the playoffs on your home floor. Like I told the guys after the game, the Lakers did a good job the first two games. They took care of their home court. We did the same thing."
Bynum had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Gasol also had 13 points to lead Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant had 12 points after spending the entire first quarter deferring to his teammates and the whole fourth quarter on the bench with three other L.A. starters.
"I was managing the game exactly how I wanted to. Unfortunately, it got away from us," Bryant said. "By them getting out in transition and getting those buckets, I wasn't able to do what I normally do at the end of the game and close games out."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson stood by Bryant's decision to wait nearly 15 minutes into the game — and until his team was down by 15 — to take his first shot, but said "It was a pretty good meltdown" in the second half.
"Our expectation is we wanted to win both of these games and be done with it. I think that's every team's mindset coming on the road being up 2-0," Bryant said. "It's not the reality of the situation. We've got a tough fight, and it should be fun."
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
After Durant clamped down on Bryant in the fourth quarter of the Thunder's 101-96 win in Game 3, the matchup between the NBA's youngest scoring champion and the 2008 MVP never materialized this time around.
Instead, both superstars were on the bench for the entire fourth quarter while lineups of mostly reserves toiled away.