In the NBA playoffs, a loss like this will surely haunt you.
If you were betting on this game, and the bookie told you, "Oklahoma City will only score 77 points," you definitely would have put all of your money on the Lakers. Unfortunately, the Lakers only scored 75 points. Kobe Bryant may have had his worst two minute stretch of basketball, ever. Kobe hasn't flamed out this badly since he was a rookie firing up air balls against the Jazz in the conference semifinals. With a seven point lead, and just over two minutes remaining, the Lakers suffered an epic meltdown and lost by two points. With the chance to head back to LA tied up at 1-1, the Lakers blew the game and now face a 2-0 hole.
Giving away a game in the playoffs is always debilitating. Just ask Memphis. They gave away game one in the first round when Nick Young went berserk with the three ball. Memphis dug out of a 3-1 hole and forced a game seven on their home court, but they couldn't seal the deal and they lost. They know that losing game one cost them the series.
The Lakers came two minutes away from stealing home court and making this series a lot more uncomfortable for OKC. Now they have to dig out of a 2-0 hole and try to tie the series up with back to back games on Friday and Saturday. This is not promising. The Lakers will have to put everything they have into game three. Losing game three will put them in a grave box. By expending so much energy in a must win, the Lakers will surely be drained the next day when they play game four. The chances of the Lakers heading back to OKC tied up at 2-2 are much slimmer now.
However, maybe this game wasn't all doom and gloom. The Lakers may have figured out how to play OKC. The defense was drastically improved. The Lakers were great against the pick and roll. The bigs, Drew, Pau, and Hill, did an excellent job of hedging hard on the picks and forcing the guards to give the ball to far less offensive talents, namely Perkins and Ibaka. When the guards would decide to force the jumper, Pau and Drew were right there to contest the shot. The Lakers did an excellent job containing Russell Westbrook. Westbrook killed the Lakers with the pick and roll in game one, but in this game he only shot 2-6 from the midrange, and he finished the game 5-17, 1-3 from deep, for 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal.
Harden was no better, he went 0-1 from the midrange off of the pick and roll, however he did take over late and make 2-3 layups in the final two minutes, one coming off a pick and roll. Then there was Durant. He only went 1-3 off of the pick and roll midrange jumper. The Lakers rotated well, hedged hard, and forced those three to give up the ball. This led to bricks from Ibaka and Perkins. Ibaka went 4-11 for 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 7 blocks. His defensive impact was impressive, but offensively, he was a liability. Perkins did no better. He went 1-5 for 2 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 turnover. Notice how the Thunder bigs had very little boards. Kevin Durant led the team with 7. By forcing the bigs to pop on the pick and roll, the Lakers forced the Thunder into numerous one and done situations. The Thunder only had 6 offensive rebounds for the entire game, compared to 11 from LA.
Overall, the Lakers did everything they needed to do to win the game. They stymied the high octane Thunder. They fed the post. Kobe hit clutch jumpers in the fourth. Then the final two minutes came and the game was stolen away. I considered OKC's performance in game one an aberration due to their hot shooting. In game two, they shot just 42% from the field, and just 35% from deep, far lower than game one's 53% and 41% from deep. I believe that these game two numbers are more of the norm. However, LA followed with their own aberration on offense, shooting just 38.5% from the field, and just 2-15 from deep for 13.3%. LA's inability to hit a 3, coupled with their epic collapse, cost them a win. On the final play of the game, Steve Blake missed a wide open 3 from the near corner. The Lakers could not have asked for a better shot. Blake missed it. The game should have never came down to that shot, but they did get a wide open look for the win. Then there was Kobe's uncharacteristic play down the stretch. Kobe hit two huge shots early in the fourth, but in the final three minutes Kobe went 0-3 for 0 points, with one of those shots actually getting blocked. In this stretch he also had 1 turnover that led to a Thunder dunk. Then a pass from Blake flew right through his hands and out of bounds the following possession. Kobe's mistakes could have been avenged with a last second shot, but the Thunder made sure he couldn't catch the inbound pass for the final shot. When the Lakers watch the game tape, they will love everything about it until the final two minutes.
Kobe started the game with a missed layup. He curled into the lane, attacked the rim hard, and went up for the finger roll. However, he was too far under the basket, and the ball hit the underside of the front iron. Miscues like this usually don't happen with Kobe. I guess it was a sign of things to come. Two minutes later, Metta passed up an open 3 at the near top 3. Instead, Metta hit Kobe at the near mid wing with 4 seconds on the shot clock. Thabo Sefolosha disrupted Kobe by tapping the ball away, and by the time Kobe regathered the ball in the near corner, the buzzer went off for a violation.
Despite his offensive troubles, Kobe had a great defensive first quarter. Kobe picked up three steals in the quarter, his first following the shot clock violation. Westbrook ran a pick and roll with Durant at the far top 3. Westbrook attacked left to the far wing and swung it to KD who popped to the near top key. Kobe rotated, left Sefolosha at the near side 3, and surprised KD for a steal. Kobe pushed up the floor and finished with a basket as Durant goaltended his layup. The next play, Westbrook brought the ball up as Durant ran off a Perkins down screen to the far wing. Westbrook hit KD at the far wing, but Bynum hedged KD hard, leaving Perkins wide open. Pau rotated to cover Perkins at the far mid block, leaving Ibaka open. Bynum recovered into the lane as Metta recovered and matched up with Durant. Ibaka flashed to the free throw line, and KD hit him. Kobe rotated over, left Sefolosha at the near side 3, and contested Ibaka's jumper, brick.
A minute later, the Lakers suffered another shot clock violation. Kobe attacked the rim, but Ibaka did a great job of rotating and swatting the finger roll. Sessions recovered the ball with 1 on the shot clock, but he couldn't get up a shot in time. Three possessions later, Pau committed to the hedge on the pick and roll. Westbrook attacked right from the top, but Pau stuck with him and forced Westbrook to throw up an ugly running fade contested jumper, air ball. Bynum came down and finished a nice reverse. The next possession, Bynum hit a nice lefty turnaround bank shot. Then Pau hit a righty turnaround bank shot. Kobe followed with consecutive steals. Kobe stole an errant Harden pass under the basket and setup Bynum for an easy layup at the rim. Kobe followed with a great rotation to steal the ball from the rolling Collison in the lane. Kobe noticed Collison slipping the pick from the top, so he left Harden and stole the ball from Collison's blind side. Bynum followed with a trip to the line and sank his free throws.
Kobe followed with a fading 8ft jumper in the lane, and the Lakers closed the quarter up 22-21. Kobe went 2-7 for 6 points, 2 assists, and 3 steals. Bynum went 3-6 for 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 block. Pau went 1-2 for 2 points and 3 rebounds. Westbrook went 2-7 for 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist. Durant went 2-2 for 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 turnovers. The Lakers did an excellent job bottling up Westbrook and Durant. All eight of the Lakers made field goals came in the lane.
Three minutes into the second, TNT showed a clip of Mike Brown during an official timeout. Brown stated in the huddle, "Hey, the most physical team wins, the most physical team wins on both ends of the floor." A minute later, Pau and Harden got into a scuffle battling for the board following a free throw. The refs assigned a double foul, but Pau actually got away with a cheap shot as he ran into the back of Harden on the way down the floor and gave him a nice subtle shove. Hill followed with an offensive rebound and dunk. Then KD got to the far wing and used a Perkins pick to attack middle. Bynum hedged hard and forced KD to hit Perkins at the far mid corner. Perkins took a dribble into the lane and threw up an ugly hook that didn't hit the rim. Metta fired up a 3 to tie the game at 33. The Lakers once again forced the Thunder to hit a big on the pop, but this time Ibaka sank the 17ft jumper from the near mid wing.
Kobe followed with a beautiful lefty finger roll. Bynum stood at the near block, took two dribbles, and turned baseline for the turnaround jumper. Perkins did an excellent job of bodying him up, thus thwarting Bynum's momentum on the turnaround. With Perkins hindering Bynum, Ibaka rotated from the weak side and spiked the ball away. Kobe recovered it at the near elbow, took a dribble into the lane, and then stepped back to the near mid block. Kobe pumped, froze the defense, and stepped through to finish a lefty finger roll at the rim. Kobe then set up Jordan Hill for an open jumper at the near mid wing as he took the double and kicked it. Hill sank the open jumper. Kobe followed that up with an impressive jumper. Kobe was at the near top, he looked to use a Pau pick to go middle, but he couldn't because the Thunder overplayed the middle. Kobe dribbled out to the near wing, attacked baseline, and beat the hedge as he turned the corner. Kobe got to the near block, backed down, shook baseline and turned middle to hit the 12ft fade from the near mid block.
Serge Ibaka picked up his fifth block of the game by swatting Bynum. Pau stood at the top of the key and hit the flashing Bynum at the near mid block. Bynum shook baseline and turned middle. Ibaka left Pau and swatted Bynum from behind. Sefolosha gathered the ball and hit the streaking Westbrook for a dunk in transition. Ibaka did a great job of blocking shots from the weak side, however, this block was just sneaky. Pau should have called out the double, but Bynum was probably too far into his move. Bynum's pet move is to take two dribbles and shoot the ball. Ibaka definitely knows this, and he rotated extremely well from the weak side to block numerous Bynum attempts. A minute later, Kobe turned the ball over as he lost his handle going behind the back. Ibaka finished with a dunk in transition. Then Bynum utilized an iso at the near block. He took two dribbles, turned baseline, and missed the turnaround jumper. Westbrook air balled a buzzer beater to end the half, and the Lakers finished the half down 45-48.
Kobe went 2-4 for 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 turnover. Bynum went 1-4 for 2 points and 2 rebounds, with two of his misses due to Ibaka blocks in the lane. Pau went 2-4 for 6 points and 1 rebound. Westbrook went 1-3 for 5 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists. KD went 2-2 for 6 points and 1 assist. The Lakers really held Westbrook and Durant in check in the first half. Westbrook went 2-4 from the midrange in the half, and KD went 1-1. Although these are high percentages, the attempts are what matter. The Lakers did a great job of hedging hard and forcing these two to give up the ball.
To start the third quarter, Reggie Miller made a great analogy. If you recall game one, the Lakers were dominating the paint offensively. Reggie stated, "I think the Lakers are approaching this series like it's a boxing match. They know they're not gonna knock out the Thunder. But what they want to do is have body blows. And how do you get body blows? By inside touches. They want to wear down the Thunder big. And if the Lakers continue to go to Pau and Andrew Bynum down low and wear down the Thunder big, it could be the series all tied up at one."
Reggie was spot on. The Lakers scored seven of their eight baskets in the paint in the third quarter. Bynum started with a three second violation, but he made up for it by blocking a Westbrook jumper at the near elbow following a pick and roll. Bynum hedged, disregarded Perkins, and contained Westbrook well enough to swat him. The next possession, Bynum hedged hard on another pick, forced KD to give it up to the popping Perkins at the free throw line, and Perkins bricked it. Then Kobe set up Pau for an easy dunk. Kobe stood at the near corner, blew by his man baseline, elevated under the board, and dumped it to Pau for a nice dunk. KD missed a contested jumper, but Bynum couldn't make him pay as he missed a turnaround fade in the lane. The Thunder ran another pick and roll, with Westbrook at the near mid wing. Bynum hedged hard and left Ibaka. Westbrook had to swing it, and Ibaka bricked the open jumper from the far top key. Bynum followed with an easy look in the lane after MWP set him up. Pau followed with a strong take to the rim from the top of the key. Pau drove left, got into the lane, and finished a running 3ft floater.
OKC immediately took a timeout as LA went up 51-48 with 7:50 to go. Then the Thunder capitalized on a four point swing. Looking back, it's little plays like this one that led to the Lakers' demise. KD curled to the free throw line and caught the entry. Kobe sagged off of Sefolosha and stripped KD in the lane. Sessions picked up the ball and attacked the rim. Sessions seemed worried about getting blocked from behind, and he ended up missing the dunk. This led to an easy transition dunk for Durant. After forcing Westbrook to miss a tough contested layup, Kobe capitalized with a fade in the lane from the from the near mid block. Kobe attacked from the far wing and probed to the near block. He pumped, stepped through to the rim, and sent a beautiful dump off to Pau in the lane. Ibaka rotated perfectly and swatted Pau, but Pau saved the ball and hit Kobe. Kobe took the pass and hit the 8ft fade in the lane. Bynum followed with another three in the key violation, but Kobe nailed a sweet 17ft jumper on the next possession. Kobe caught it at the near mid wing, faced up, swung through from left to right, took one dribble, and hit the pull up jumper from the near mid corner, swish. It was probably Kobe's quickest move of the night. His swing through was lightning fast. Bynum followed with a baseline reverse that Collison goaltended. Bynum then contested Westbrook on the pick and roll pull up from the free throw line. Bynum altered the shot, forcing Westbrook to put a lot of arc on the shot and come up short. Metta followed with a pick and roll from the near elbow and he hit Pau rolling to the rim for a dunk.
Kevin Durant followed with a ridiculous layup. KD stood at the top 3, faked right and went left. Perkins set a back pick on MWP, and KD drove the lane. He went to the rim and elevated. Pau rotated well, but KD made a spectacular play. KD brought the ball up high with two hands, then he brought it down to his left hip. With Pau's arms outstretched, KD threw up a two handed scoop just under the backboard. The ball went high off the glass, just under Pau's arms, and left KD's hands just moments before he landed on the floor.
Kobe followed with a strip on Harden and a 9ft bank shot from the near mid block. Then Barnes stripped Harden on a drive and the ball bounced off Harden and out of bounds. Blake finished the quarter by getting fouled and sinking both free throws, his first points of the series. The Lakers entered the fourth up 63-60. Kobe went 3-7 for 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal. Bynum went 2-4 for 4 points, 1 block, and 1 turnover. Pau went 3-4 for 6 points and 1 assist. At this point, LA had 42 points in the paint, much more than OKC's 26. Westbrook finished 1-5 for 3 points and 1 rebound. KD went 2-4 for 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 turnover.
The start of the fourth quarter was ugly on both ends. Only Harden scored in the first 3 minutes, as he nailed a 3. Metta missed three straight jumpers to start it off. Sessions hit Metta in the near corner. Metta attacked middle, backed down into the lane, spun back baseline, and shot a turnaround fading jumper that missed the entire rim and clanked off of the backboard. The next possession, the Lakers struggled to get into their offense, and Barnes dumped the ball to Metta at the near wing with 5 on the clock. Metta attacked middle, got to the near elbow, and missed the lean in jumper. Hill corralled the offensive rebound at the far block, but he missed the putback. Then Metta was forced into another late clock situation. Metta caught it at the near wing with 8 on the clock. Metta held the ball there until 3 seconds were left. Metta dribbled to the near corner and fired up a fading jumper as if he was Kobe. Well, Metta is no Kobe, and he hit the side of the backboard for a shot clock violation. Harden followed with a 3. Then Pau drove left from the near top key into the lane. Pau missed the lefty runner. Pau should have been featured on each of these plays, but he was passive and could not establish position on the blocks or decent passing angles. His aggressive drive was good, but he couldn't finish. Following a KD miss, LA called timeout and Kobe and Drew subbed back in the game.
Bynum traveled on his first possession back in the game. Metta made up for it by stealing the ball. The Lakers came down, and Kobe hit a spectacular shot. Pau hit Kobe at the far top key with 5 on the clock. Kobe took one dribble to his left and pulled up for the 17ft jumper from the far mid wing, swish. Pau followed by forcing Harden into a tough contested layup that he missed. Then Kobe played decoy, taking two defenders with him on a curl and setting up Blake for a wide open 3. Bynum stood at the top 3, saw the defenders chase Kobe, and hit Blake at the far wing, swish. MWP followed with another steal, as he reached around KD on the entry pass and stole the ball. MWP pushed up the court and was fouled. He made one of two. Following a made Ibaka jumper off a drive and kick, Kobe came down and hit another tough shot. Kobe stood at the near wing, hit Pau at the top key, and ran over for the handoff. Kobe danced at the top in an iso, crossed right to left, got to the far elbow, stepped back, and hit the contested 18ft jumper over Harden. Westbrook followed with another pick and pop, but this time Ibaka bricked it. Blake followed with his own wide open brick from the near wing 3. Durant pushed the ball up, got to the top 3, and used a Perkins screen to pull up and sink it. Perk set the screen as he ran down the court with Durant trailing him. Bynum never hedged, MWP was wiped out by Perk, and Durant made the open shot, cutting the score to 71-68, Lakers lead with 5:54 to go.
Nothing came easy at the end, for both teams. The next possession, Ibaka made another great swat. Pau stood at the near top key and he sent the entry to Bynum just outside the parabola in the lane. Bynum took one dribble and turned toward the far side. Ibaka left Pau and swatted Bynum from behind as he shot the turnaround jumper. Bynum recovered at the near mid corner, took a dribble baseline, spun back middle, and missed the turnaround hook in the lane. The next play, Kobe set up Pau for an easy shot in the lane, but Pau bobbled the pass. Kobe recovered it at the far block, turned baseline, and shot the fading jumper from the far block, clank. Pau should have had an easy layup. Following an Ibaka brick off a drive and kick, the Lakers went back inside. Kobe used a pick from Pau at the far wing to attack the middle. Kobe hit the rolling Pau at the far block, and Pau dumped it off to Bynum at the near block for the easy dunk. Westbrook followed with a step back brick from the near elbow. Then Kobe air balled a contested 3 to beat the clock from the far wing. Westbrook followed with his own brick from the near wing 3 to beat the clock. Bynum missed a turnaround jumper just outside the parabola. KD missed a pull up 3 from the near wing.
Then Bynum finally got something to drop. Blake hit Bynum at the far mid block. Bynum faced up, jabbed baseline, backed down with two dribbles to the middle, and turned baseline to hit the lefty turnaround from the far block. This sweet move put the Lakers up 75-68 with 2:08 remaining. OKC called a timeout to regather. A seven point lead with two minutes to go should have all but guaranteed victory, but then things got wacky.
Harden started it off with an extremely tough finish at the rim. Harden avoided the pick at the far wing, attacked baseline, crossed right to left to get into the lane, and finished a contested lefty layup over Pau. Kobe came down to the near wing and tried to send an entry to Pau at the near elbow. Kobe lobbed the ball and KD stuck his arm up like Inspector Gadget to steal the weak pass. KD finished with a dunk in transition, making the score 75-72. The next possession, Blake dribbled up the near side, sent an autopilot pass to Kobe at the near wing, and watched Westbrook jump the gap and distract Kobe. Westbrook nearly came up with the steal, as he sagged off Blake and pounced for the ball, but it didn't matter because the ball flew through Kobe's hands and out of bounds. This play was just like the opening play of game one, except that time, Westbrook got the steal. Different plays, same result, turnover. However, the Thunder failed to capitalize as KD missed a 3 from the top.
Then the game was lost. After Bynum was fronted and softly doubled off the ball, Kobe got stuck with the ball at the far wing with 7 on the clock. Kobe dribbled to the far mid corner and shot a turnaround fade. Harden stuck with him the entire way and blocked the shot. Kobe air balled it and Harden finished another tough layup by attacking the basket in transition. Up 75-74, the Lakers again looked to get Bynum the ball. Perkins did a great job fronting Bynum. When the ball would swing, Perkins would battle for position and deny the entry. Perkins effectively denied Bynum the ball, and the ball ended up in Metta's hand at the near mid wing. Metta drove middle and kicked the ball out. As Metta kicked it out, the ball was tipped. Kobe had to gather it at the far top 3, and he fired up the 3, out of rhythm, to beat the clock. Kobe missed the contested 3, setting up Durant for the game winner. Durant caught the ball at the top 3 and used a Perkins pick to attack right. Bynum hedged extremely well, forcing Durant to circle all the way to the far side. But Durant eventually turned the corner and attacked to the far block. Durant went up for the 7ft floater at the block and the ball softly bounced in, putting the Thunder ahead 75-76 with :18 on the clock.
The Lakers immediately called timeout to advance the ball. Inbounding from the near side, the Lakers could not get the ball in and Blake had to call timeout to avoid a five second violation. Sefolosha did a great job denying Kobe the ball. The Lakers tried again, this time with Metta inbounding. Kobe curled from the lane up to the top of the 3, but Thabo stuck right with him. Kobe darted to the near mid wing, and then back up to the top. He couldn't get open, but Metta got the ball in to Pau at the top, about 6ft behind the 3. Pau handed it off to Kobe, and Kobe killed the clock at the near wing. Kobe finally attacked, forcing Thabo to take the foul with 5.7 on the clock.
Coach Brown took another timeout, his final one. Considering how much difficulty the Lakers had getting the ball in on two straight occasions, this probably wasn't wise. Metta was the inbounder at the near side. Kobe curled from the lane to the top 3. Durant turned his back on Metta and spied Kobe at the near wing. Durant's only responsibility was to make sure Kobe couldn't come to the near side and get the ball. With Durant killing the near wing, Kobe used a Pau flare screen at the top of the key to pop out to the far side. Ibaka wisely shadowed Kobe as Thabo stuck with Pau. Metta had no choice but to inbound the ball before the five second count. For some reason, Russell Westbrook took his eyes off the ball and looked over at Kobe popping out to the far side. Blake popped to the near corner, and Metta sent the inbound pass. Blake fired up the wide open 3, and he clanked it. Game over.
A lot of discussion has covered the fact that Steve Blake took the final shot. Some have even questioned if Kobe wanted the ball. Such accusations are ridiculous. Obviously, Kobe was the first option, but the Thunder devoted three guys to guarding him. Durant at the near wing, Sefolosha on his body, and Ibaka shadowing on the flare. Metta made the correct decision to hit Blake. We have all seen Blake hit clutch shots this postseason, unfortunately he missed this one.
I don't fault Kobe for his actions on the play. However, Kobe did cost the Lakers another opportunity. As he crashed the glass to the far block, the ball bounced to the far mid corner and Sefolosha gathered it. Instead of immediately fouling Thabo, Kobe angrily threw his arms down in disgust. This cost the Lakers at least a second as Pau had to rotate over and take the foul. The Lakers then fouled KD, and he only hit one of two, making the score 75-77. However, only 0.3 remained on the clock. If Kobe had quickly taken a foul, there would have been at least 1 second remaining. Instead, Metta was forced to throw a full length pass into the key for the lob tip in. Harden intercepted it and the game ended.
Kobe finished the quarter 2-7 for 4 points and 1 turnover. He went 2-2 and then missed his next five shots. Bynum went 2-5 for 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 turnovers. Pau went 0-1 for 0 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists. Pau's disappearance came at a horrible time, especially considering his strong third quarter. Westbrook went 0-2 for 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal. Durant went 3-7 for 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 turnover. The Lakers held Durant and Westbrook in check, but untimely mental breakdowns killed them.
Kobe finished the game 9-25, 0-6 from deep, for 20 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and 2 turnovers. Kobe really struggled with his jumper. Kobe only hit four shots outside of 12ft, going 4-14 from that distance. Kobe was having a pretty efficient night, but his final five bricks killed his averages, and the team. Bynum went 8-19 for 20 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers. Four turnovers from the big fella is too many. Bynum got a lot of looks, but he couldn't punish OKC with a dominant performance. Pau finished 6-11 for 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists. The rest of the Lakers shot 7-24 for 21 points, but that was inflated by Jordan Hill's 3-4 for 6 points. Hill also had 6 rebounds and a steal. His activity was solid.
The Lakers won the points in the paint battle, 46-34. The Lakers forced the Thunder to turn the ball over. OKC had 13, which LA converted for 17 points. Considering OKC only had 4 in game one, this is more realistic. LA had 15 turnovers of their own, which OKC turned into 14 points. Kevin Durant was pretty much the only Thunder player to have a good game. Durant finished 9-15, 1-4 from deep, for 22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 turnovers. With LA returning home, these type of numbers from OKC would be very welcome.
The Lakers figured some things out and they should be able to utilize those strengths at home. It will be tough to come back from 2-0, but it has been done before. LA came back from 2-0 against the Spurs in '04 in the conference semifinals. That was the year DFish hit the 0.4 shot. It may take a miracle, but it can be done. Let's see if the Lakers take care of business on Friday.
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