The game was heavy on star power, as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol each scored 21 points to lead the Lakers. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 32 points and 12 assists, and drove to the hole all night at will. Kevin Durant chipped in with 24 points, but struggled from the field, thanks in part to the defense of Ron Artest, making just eight of 24 field goal attempts. Kobe struggled from the free throw line, hitting just six of 11 from the charity stripe.
The Lakers used a 14-0 run in the third quarter to take a 72-59 lead, and spent the rest of the game holding on to that lead. For a while in the late third quarter, tonight seemed like a replica of Sunday's Laker loss to the Clippers, during which the Lakers built a double-digit third quarter lead only to see a younger, faster team erase most of the lead before the quarter ended. Tonight, Oklahoma City cut the Lakers' lead to three points near the end of the third quarter, but a three-pointer by Steve Blake gave the Lakers a six-point lead heading into the fourth.
Andrew Bynum battled foul trouble tonight, which limited his floor time to 22 minutes, but Bynum scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while he was out there. Derek Fisher hit a pair of threes en route to a season-high 15 points on the night, the 10th time Fisher has scored in double figures this season. The Lakers travel to play two more top Western Conference teams later this week, Wednesday in Dallas against the Mavericks, and Friday in Denver to play the Nuggets.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Western Conference contenders cap off the NBA's Martin Luther King Day schedule when Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder invade the City of Angels to take on the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Thunder, who are opening up a brief two-game road trip tonight, won their fourth straight contest last Thursday when Durant scored 36 points and Russell Westbrook compiled a triple-double with 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds as Oklahoma City edged Eastern Conference heavyweight Orlando, 125-124.
Nenad Krstic scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Jeff Green donated 12 points for Oklahoma City, which has won 13 of 18 overall and is now just two games behind the Lakers for second place in the West. "We beat one of the best teams in basketball," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. "That was an exciting game. Both teams played at a high level offensively."
The Lakers, meanwhile, lost for the first time in eight games on Sunday, dropping a 99-92 decision to their Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers. Eric Gordon led all scorers with 30 points and rookie Blake Griffin registered his franchise-record 26th straight double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds in that one before getting ejected late in the fourth quarter.
With the Clippers up 99-90 and 5.7 seconds remaining, Griffin got tangled up with Lamar Odom after Randy Foye's free throw. Odom grabbed the power forward by the jersey and pushed him out of bounds. After other players got involved, order was quickly restored with no punches being thrown. Odom, Griffin, the Lakers' Ron Artest and Clippers' Baron Davis were all ejected.
Kobe Bryant ended with a team-best 27 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who were serving as the visitor and had won nine of 10 coming into the contest. Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 13 boards in defeat. "I didn't like our energy tonight," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. "They exposed us at the end of the game and we had a couple of defensive lapses. Gordon had a really good game."
The Lakers had won 12 straight versus the Thunder franchise before Oklahoma City ended the skid in the final matchup between the two clubs last season. Phil Jackson's club quickly responded, however, by disposing of Oklahoma City in six games during a hotly contested Western Conference quarterfinals series en route to its second consecutive NBA crown.