LA Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder Game 5: Running Diary, Live Score, & Analysis

Jason HeimCorrespondent IMay 21, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts before taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 19 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves on the brink of elimination Monday night after splitting a pair of nail-biters over the weekend at Staples Center. The Oklahoma City Thunder, thanks to Kevin Durant's clutch shooting, have pushed the Lakers against the wall after a dramatic Game 4 win.

A strong theme has developed in this series. The Lakers jump out to sizable leads, then slowly watch them dissipate as the Thunder ratchet up the intensity and convert big shots down the stretch. The way they've played most of the minutes, you could argue that instead of trailing 3-1 in the series, the Lakers should be leading by that same count. That's how close this series has been.

Monday's Game 5 features a desperate and bickering Laker team that, though suffering that major deficit, strangely feels like it has found the recipe for success against OKC. For roughly three quarters in each of the last three games, the Lakers have carved out leads, only to see them disappear when it matters most—in the fourth. 

Oklahoma City arrives home supremely confident in their chances of closing the Lakers out. In the minds of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co., it's only a matter of how soon they complete that thought.

Bearing down to finish the Lakers as soon as possible is in the Thunder's best interest, because the longer the Lakers hang around, the more momentum they will build.

Stay tuned to this space for live scoring updates, thoughts and analysis for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.