Durant immediately hit a go-ahead jumper with a hand squarely in his face, but Bryant added two more free throws — his 15th and 16th — to put Los Angeles ahead 95-94. The Thunder finished 26 of 28 from the line, but the Lakers went 17 for 18 in the fourth quarter alone.
"We knew they were going to approach the game with a lot of intensity down 0-2," Durant said. "We did a great job of fighting back and taking a lead. ... We can play any type of basketball. That's what's good about our team. We can play fast. We can play slow. That's what tonight was, and so was Game 2. But both games, we did a good job of fighting. Tonight, we just didn't come out on top."
The game was the first of four second-round NBA playoff games in just over 48 hours at Staples Center, also the site of the NHL's Western Conference finals between and Kings and Phoenix on Thursday and Sunday. The top-seeded San Antonio Spurs will face the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday in an afternoon game before the Thunder and Lakers play Game 4.
Thanks to the NBA's shortened schedule, the Lakers are playing their first back-to-back playoff games since May 22-23, 1999, in the second round against San Antonio during another season shortened by labor strife.
NOTES: Before the game, Gasol received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his charity work as a UNICEF ambassador. World Peace won the award last season. ... Kendrick Perkins had six points in 30 minutes, but Brooks put no limit on his minutes in the back-to-back games despite the veteran's sore hip. ... NBA Commissioner David Stern, Denzel Washington, Snoop Dogg, The Game, Ice Cube, Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and the Los Angeles Kings' Mike Richards, Drew Doughty and Jarret Stoll attended the game.
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