NBA Playoffs 2012: Lakers’ Failure to Close Game 2 Is Postseason Death Sentence

The Los Angeles Lakers may have developed a solid blueprint for beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2.

And they still lost the game. And because they did and now trail two games to none, they lost this series as well.

The Lakers played solid defense and slowed the pace of the game, stifling the Thunder's offensive attack. For 46 minutes, they played their game and took a 75-68 lead, sure to head home even in the series.

Instead, they blew the lead, watched the Thunder close the game on a 9-0 run and sentenced themselves to playoff death in two minutes.

Perhaps it's a fitting way for this Lakers team to go out, presuming they don't orchestrate some sort of magical comeback in this series, that is.

So much of this season has been angst-filled with this team, from the failed Chris Paul trade to Lamar Odom's hurt feelings to the constant Pau Gasol rumors to the team not adopting Mike Brown's system early to Andrew Bynum's season-long shenanigans and finally Metta World Peace's elbow to the side of James Harden's head.

And yet through it all they managed to win, managed to overcome a sometimes shoddy offense by playing excellent defense, utilizing the post advantage they had and letting Kobe Bryant do his thing when the time called for it.

Game 2 then was the way you would expect this Lakers team to lose. All the potential there for the victory, a solid game plan executed throughout and then, out of nowhere, it all fell apart. A few turnovers here, a few missed shots there, and just like that, the Thunder rattle off nine-straight points.

Ultimately, it's why this Lakers team just isn't elite. The talent is there to do it, but something keeps this team from taking the next step. Maybe it's Bynum's lack of maturity, or Gasol's penchant for playing soft, or World Peace's occasional detachment from reality or even Kobe's need to dominate the offense.

Whatever ...

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