OKC Falls 99-96 In Tough Game 3 - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

OKC Falls 99-96 In Tough Game 3

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Kevin Durant had 31 points to lead the Thunder. Kevin Durant had 31 points to lead the Thunder.

Grant Belcher, News9.com

This is the type of Lakers-Thunder game that NBA fans know and love, but it was still a heartbreaker for OKC.

In a stereotypical matchup that was tense, physical, heated and close from start to finish, Los Angeles salvaged a 99-96 victory to keep the Thunder from taking a 3-0 lead in the series.

Unlike OKC's big blowout in Game 1 of the series, this game had it all. After OKC got down 16-4 to start the game, the Thunder slowly began to chip away at the lead.

Six minutes into the second quarter, a 3-pointer from Kevin Durant finally gave Oklahoma City its first lead of the game at 33-32.

But things started to get heated as Metta World Peace and Russell Westbrook got into it during a scrap for a loose ball toward the end of the first half.

Westbrook threw an elbow that connected to the back of World Peace's knee, and World Peace appeared to kneel down on top of Westbrook while he was on the ground.

The pair received double technicals and the game was called tightly to keep everything under control. The teams combined to shoot 70 free throws in the game, and made an incredible 67 of them.

The Lakers only missed one free throw as a team, going 41-of-42.

The combined free throw percentage of 95.7 precisely ties that same playoff record originally set by Chicago and Boston in 1987.

OKC appeared ready to break the game open several times in the second half.

With just over seven minutes to play in the game, James Harden helped OKC to a 7-0 run. He connected on two free throws, followed it with a perfect outlet pass to Kevin Durant for a dunk and then drained a 3-pointer to put his team up five.

But Los Angeles' incredible free throw shooting helped them all the way back into it and gave them the lead for good.

Twelve of the Lakers' final 14 points came at the free throw line, and 29 of their 48 second-half points came from the line.

Kobe Bryant led L.A. with 36 points, including a perfect 18-of-18 from the free throw line.

Durant had 31 points to lead the Thunder, who lead the series 2-1.

The two teams will turn around quickly for a rare playoff back-to-back, facing the Lakers at the Staples Center again on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. again.

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