If you're looking to find two plays that led the Oklahoma City Thunder to lose for the first time in the postseason on Friday night, you'll find them in the closing minute. With about 50 seconds left, the Thunder forced Kobe Bryant to miss jumpers twice ... but failed to get the rebound on either brick. The Lakers star drew a shooting foul on his third attempt, and nailed a pair to put L.A. back on top by one. They wouldn't trail again.
They wouldn't trail again because the Thunder failed to score on their next trip, one in which Kevin Durant completely schooled his defender on a wicked crossover, hit Serge Ibaka with a pass and ... watched Ibaka back up and take a tough baseline jumper, which smacked iron. Durant lost the offensive rebound attempt, the Lakers hit the rest of their free throws, and the game was over.
But before those two plays, a critical whistle got the Lakers, who'd been struggling to score, back on top.
On the Lakers' possession before the double rebound fail, Kobe drew a foul on James Harden ... 23 feet from the basket ... where Bryant posed no threat. It would have been a really awful foul ... if it were a foul at all. It was one of the more ticky-tack fouls you'll see, just some light contact that could have been incidental and certainly didn't disadvantage the Lakers in any way.
The Thunder were in the penalty, and Kobe hit both. In the fourth, the Lakers scored 30. Seventeen of those came on 18 free throw attempts; the Lakers got to the line for a pair in nine possessions, and got 17 points out of it, or 1.9 points per possession. L.A. scored 13 points on 17 official shots from the floor in the fourth, or 0.8 points per possession. The Lakers had trouble scoring when they were not at the line in the fourth quarter on Friday, and that awful foul class basically gave L.A. an extra point.
That's all L.A. needed.