The reeling Los Angeles Lakers hope a change of scenery can get them back into their Western Conference semifinals set against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder followed a nice walk in the park in Game 1 of the set by stealing Game 2 on Wednesday when Durant scored the go-ahead basket with 18.6 seconds left as OKC closed the contest on a 9-0 run to beat the Lakers 77-75.
Durant snaked along the baseline on the right side and dropped in a one-handed floater over Pau Gasol for the what proved to be the game-winner.
"I just tried to put some touch on it and it went in," said Durant.
Earlier in the game-ending run, Durant leapt in the LA backcourt to steal a pass from Kobe Bryant, racing down for a fastbreak dunk, a fitting moment for a "stolen" win as the Thunder head to L.A with a 2-0 lead in the series despite trailing 75-68 in Game 2 with just two minutes left.
"All I told them was you're down seven -- you don't have to play perfect basketball, but you have to be pretty close," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
Durant scored 22 points, Russell Westbrook had 15 and James Harden added 13 off the bench for the second-seeded Thunder, who were coming off Monday's 29- point win in Game 1, when they led by as many as 35.
Durant and Harden scored all nine points on Oklahoma City's 9-0 run at the end.
"It was a great comeback by them," said Bryant. "They got themselves a gritty win."
After Durant's steal, the Lakers missed their last three shots of the game -- Bryant was off on a tough turnaround jumper and missed a three-pointer, while Steve Blake also missed a three from the corner.
"The last two minutes we didn't do a good job of executing offensively and defensively and that was the key to the game," said Lakers coach Mike Brown. "They did what they had to do and got two wins and now we have to do the same."
Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points apiece to lead LA in Game 2 and Gasol had 14.
"It's not good," Brown said. "I don't think anyone's happy in there [the locker room]. It's a tough loss but we'll regroup and be ready to go Friday."
To get back in the series the Lakers will need more from Bryant. The veteran superstar, who was the NBA's second-leading scorer behind Durant during the regular season, has scored 20 points in each of the first two games but is just 16-for-43 from the floor and a disastrous 1-for-9 from long range.
Brooks has frustrated Bryant by using throwing three athletic players, Thabo Sefolosha, Durant and Harden, at him depending on the situation.
"There's not a lot of 6-foot-10 guys that you would throw on Kobe," Brooks said of Durant. "He's a guy that can guard multiple positions, and it's definitely a different look when you're used to a guy 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, and all of a sudden 6-foot-10 comes on you."
Staples Center could be the tonic for the Lakers, however. Brown's team was 26-7 as the host in SoCal this season. L.A. is now fighting uphill though and is just 2-17 all-time when losing the first two games of a best-of-seven series.
"The reality of it is we were probably a little tired, not to use that as an excuse," Brown said. We went seven (games in the first round), they went four. We should have gone 4-0 and not had to deal with that, if that was an issue. I thought we were a lot more physical, a lot more in tune in that second game. At this point in the playoffs, if we can't sustain it, we don't deserve to win."
Brooks, on the other hand, is trying to make his young team understand that they haven't accomplished anything just yet.
"We've had some success (in) this playoffs so far, but it doesn't really guarantee the next game results if you don't get the good effort and good energy and teamwork," the OKC mentor said. "You have to understand that you have to respect your opponent, and they're going to throw a lot of things at us, and you have to be prepared."
These teams are very familiar with each other, having played three times during the regular season. Oklahoma City won the first two contests by 15 points (at Chesapeake Energy Arena) and nine (Staples Center) before the Lakers rebounded to win the final meeting in Hollywood by eight in double- overtime.
In the playoffs this rivalry dates back to 1978 when the Oklahoma City franchise was known as the Seattle SuperSonics. The Sonics beat the Lakers in 1978 and '79 when they reached the NBA Finals in both years. The franchise hasn't beaten them since, losing in 1980, '87, '89, '95 and '98 as well as 2010 as the Thunder.
Game 4 of the set is scheduled for Saturday, also in Los Angeles.