Pau Gasol: ‘We live for the next game’
The clock wound down inside three minutes to go, the “2″ in front being the grim reaper for the Lakers. It was two nights ago when Kobe Bryant’s team had imploded in the final 2:08 of Game 2, putting them in a 2-0 hole against this force of nature coming after him — this team trying to take him out.
Just under three minutes left, and it started again with a Bryant turnover and a runout dunk by Russell Westbrook, the tough-as-nails, freakishly fast lead guard for the Thunder — faster than Bryant is now or ever was. It was Oklahoma City by five, with 2:54 to push Bryant and the Lakers off the ledge.
Two nights ago, it was the Lakers imploding with a seven-point lead and two minutes left, and now they had to play from behind. “We’ve just got to win,” Bryant said in the interview room afterward. “That’s it. Plain and simple.”
They slowed the pace again, and flipped the script on the Thunder in a game they had to have at Staples Center to keep their season — and Bryant’s championship chase — alive.
Two free throws from Pau Gasol and a driving layup high off the glass from Bryant, and now it was the Thunder by one with 1:32 left. Out of a timeout, the Lakers got a steal from Metta World Peace, scored their final eight points at the free-throw line — where they were 41 for 42 — and watched Kevin Durant miss a tying 3-point attempt to beat the Thunder 99-96 on Friday night and pull within 2-1 in their best-of-7 series.
“We live for the next game,” Gasol said. “And the next one is going to be the most important game. Again.”