Can Kobe Bryant And The LA Lakers Rise To Kevin Durant’s Challenge?

Kobe Bryant had his moments in Thursday night's Game Three loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, especially in the second quarter where he threatened to take control of the game, but Kevin Durant made the bigger statement on this night.

Durant never issued a verbal challenge to Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers, but Durant's 29 points and 19 rebounds were worth more than any words could express, and likely saved the Thunder from an insurmountable three-game deficit.

Durant had plenty of help, as Russell Westbrook scored 27 points and James Harden added 18, and the Lakers were never able to contain the Thunder's perimeter trio.

Even on a night where all five Lakers' starters reached double figures, the Thunder refused to go away and with the outcome hanging in the balance, Oklahoma City was the team who seized control of the game.

One challenge Durant did take was defending Bryant in the fourth quarter and Durant's height visibly bothered Bryant and forced him into a multitude of questionable shots at the end of the game.

It was a far different scene from two days earlier, where Bryant's 15-point fourth quarter proved to be the deciding factor in the Lakers' narrow three-point escape.

Instead, the normal fourth quarter brilliance of Bryant was muted on this night by exceptional defense from Durant, and the ability of his teammates to shake off their fears and play with purpose and focus.

There were some obvious discrepancies in the game, such as the Thunder's two to one advantage from the charity stripe, and the strange fact that Bryant was unable to find his way to the free throw line a single time.

But this loss can't be chalked up to officiating because the Lakers held the lead the majority of the game despite few trips to the free throw line, and it was only after Los Angeles abandoned the post game that the Thunder made their charge.

The paint area is the bi...

About the Author