May 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) attempts a free throw basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of game three of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Roundhouse: May 18th, 2012

Man, another weird night in the NBA. These playoffs really don’t make any sense whatsoever. We had a team come out and absolutely blow their opponent away in the first half before utterly folding in the second. Then we had a back-and-forth affair that featured a staggering 70 combined free throws and about 30 calls ranging from questionable to outright laughable that ended with a contested 30-footer that would have tied the game. Guess we might as well jump in.

Philadelphia 76ers 92, Boston Celtics 83: Series tied 2-2

May 18, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) sets up a play during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game four of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sixers defeated the Celtics 92-83. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Sigh. Why is it that the ugliest series in these playoffs have lasted the longest? We had Sixers-Bulls and Hawks-Celtics, arguably the two worst series of the first round, last six games apiece despite nobody living outside Chicago/Philadelphia and Atlanta/Boston respectively wanting to see any more than four.  Luckily, two much better series went seven games, but still. It’s looking more and more like the two Western series will only go five, and I honestly have no idea what to make of Pacers-Heat, but I become more certain with every passing game that Sixers-Celtics will go seven awful, awful games and I will become extremely depressed. Sigh.

On a different note, remember when Kevin Garnett was back to being his old self? Yeah, about that. He appears to have turned back into a pumpkin with an atrocious game three. 9 points on 25% shooting with 7 turnovers isn’t going to cut it, even if he did manage 11 rebounds. The unfortunate part is that if Boston had gotten much of anything from KG in the second half, they might have pulled it out. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo had solid games, with Pierce scoring 24 points and Rondo springing for 15 points and 15 assists. They also could have used something — anything — from their bench, but expecting the likes of Keyon Dooling and Mickael Pietrus to contribute consistently is asking a lot.

On the other side, Andre Iguodala really stepped up down the stretch, nailing a pair of huge jumpers down the stretch and finishing with 16-7-4 despite struggling in the first half (along with the rest of the team). Evan Turner finished just 5/22 but had 9 rebounds and got to the foul line enough to offset that. Lou Williams was huge as a spark off the bench and helped drive the third-quarter comeback. Jodie Meeks also returned from the great beyond — remember, he was mothballed after game one of the Bulls series because Doug Collins felt Turner gave the team a better shot — to add nine points and valuable floor spacing.

I seriously hope I’m wrong about this series going seven, but I don’t think I am. Man, that’s gonna be rough.

Los Angeles Lakers 99, Oklahoma City Thunder 96: Thunder lead series 2-1

As I said, this was a strange, back-and-forth affair, with plenty of odd calls throughout on both sides. Any time you see 70 free throws in an NBA game and a team scores 49 points in the second half despite making just 11 shots, something weird is going on. I don’t even remotely understand what happened here. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden combined for 73 points, but the supporting cast was only so-so. Kobe Bryant threw up a 36-7-6 despite going just 9/25 from the field, but going 18/18 from the free throw line will do that for you.

Above all else, the takeaway from this game is that the Lakers just made a ton of free throws. I mean, 41/42 from the line as a team is ridiculous and unsustainable. And they needed every single one to escape with their lives. Suppose they’d been granted those 42 free throws but only made 35. They would have lost by three and we’d be having a whole different conversation. So it’s probably best if we just congratulate them and move on to the next game.

Speaking of next game, it’s tomorrow. Yep, it’s our first playoff back-to-back of the year. And I don’t see any way the Lakers win. They may be at home, but OKC is so much younger and deeper that they shouldn’t have any trouble bouncing back, while the more geriatrically inclined Lakers probably will, at least to some degree. Plus the Thunder are just better than the Lakers, so there’s that.

Saturday, May 19th:

San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers Game 3, 2:30 PM CDT, ABC

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers Game 4, 9:30 PM CDT, TNT

Next Bulls Game Full schedule »

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