The Oklahoma City Thunder's offense was atrocious in the second half of Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. They managed just 12 points in the third quarter and, with just two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, they had scored only eight points in that period. Offensively, they couldn't have been much worse.
Then, a combination of inspiration and a Kobe Bryant meltdown completely altered the course of the game. Oklahoma City mounted a furious comeback in the closing minutes, coming from seven points down with 2:08 remaining to win 77-75, taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
Kevin Durant and James Harden were quiet, but came up huge when their team needed them most. They made two shots each during a 9-0 run, with three of their four made field goals coming after Bryant made a mistake on the offensive end. Harden scored twice on driving layups, while Durant had an easy transition dunk to go along with the basket of the game.
Throughout the fourth quarter, until the final two minutes, Oklahoma City's lack of a true point guard showed. They could only create jump shots before Harden started taking it hard to the basket, and Durant seemed to take some inspiration from his teammate in the final minute. He took the ball at the top of the arc and, in the absence of a point guard, became the point guard. Durant used a screen by Kendrick Perkins to lose Metta World Peace, went around Andrew Bynum with ease, then hit a shot in the face of Pau Gasol to give the Thunder the lead.
The performances that Harden and Durant put in for their team in the final two minutes stood in stark contrast with the performance put in by Bryant down the stretch. On four consecutive possessions, in order, Bryant did the following: Turned the ball over with a bad pass, mishandled a Steve Blake pass out of bounds, had a shot blocked and missed a panic three-pointer with five seconds remaining on the shot clock.
Despite this, the Lakers tried to inbound the ball to Bryant following Durant's eventual game-winner, on account of him being Kobe Bryant. The Thunder shut him off on the first inbound attempt, forcing a timeout. The Lakers got the ball to Bryant via Pau Gasol on their second attempt at an inbound, but Thabo Sefolosha intelligently fouled Bryant at the last possible second before he went into a shooting motion while the Thunder had a foul to give.
With 5.6 seconds on the clock, Kobe was the obvious man to run a play for, but he never got open. With World Peace inbounding, Russell Westbrook completely fell asleep defensively and left Blake wide open in the corner. Instead of looking for Bryant, World Peace made the reasonable decision to take the wide-open look the Lakers were gifted. Blake couldn't knock it down. A series of fouls and timeouts extended the game, but that miss effectively ended it.
Bryant's stats illustrate the infamous Kobe System at its best. He finished the night 9-25 shooting with 20 points. He did not score in the final six minutes of the game. Durant led all scorers with 22 points, and he shot the ball only 15 times. It was a poor all-around offensive game for both teams but, in the final two minutes, the Thunder found a way to create inside looks without a point guard or a dominant offensive big man, and that was ultimately the difference.