A strong defensive effort by the Los Angeles Lakers gave them their fourth straight victory, a 90-87 win over the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The Lakers, who trailed 56-51 at halftime and were down by as many as 13 points in the first half, held the Thunder to just 31 points in the second half. Pau Gasol had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Lakers, as the duo combined to make 12 of their 20 field goal attempts. In addition, Kobe Bryant passed Elvin Hayes to become the seventh all-time leading scorer in NBA history.
Kobe scored 17 in the game, but struggled to do so under duress from Thabo Sefolosha for most of the game. Bryant made eight of 22 shots, including one for six from three-point range. Bryant began the season in 12th place on the all-time scoring list, but has passed four legends this season. Kobe passed former Celtic John Havlicek on December 10, passed Dominique Wilkins on January 4, passed Oscar Robertson on January 7, and passed Hakeem Olajuwon on January 28:
The Lakers were up 90-87 with Lamar Odom going to the line with 10.9 seconds remaining, trying to ice the game. But Odom missed both free throws, giving the Thunder a chance to tie. On their final possession, Kevin Durant and James Harden both missed three-pointers that would have tied the game. Durant scored 21 for Oklahoma City, and Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 22 points, and had six rebounds and six assists. The Lakers head to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are looking for their fourth straight victory today against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in a battle of first place teams on ABC. The two teams met in the first round of the NBA playoffs last year, but if they meet again this year, it might have to be in the conference finals. Here are the pertinent details of today's game:
Teams: Lakers (41-19) vs. Thunder (36-21)
Location: Oklahoma City Arena
Time: 11:30 a.m. PST
Streaks: Lakers (won 3); Thunder (lost 2)
Home & Away: Lakers, 20-11 on the road; Thunder, 20-8 at home
Welcome Aboard: Newcomer Kendrick Perkins won't play today, as he is still out with a left knee injury. However, fellow newcomers Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson are expected to make their Thunder debuts today. As Dexter Fishmore pointed out yesterday, Mohammed has averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds in his last two games against the Lakers. In fact, in his last four games against the Lakers, Mohammed has averaged 16.8 points and 9.5 rebounds, and he has gone 20-10 in each of his last two starts against L.A.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points Friday night against the Clippers, which put him over the 1,500 point mark on the season, the 11th consecutive year Kobe has scored at least 1,500 points. It is the longest streak in the NBA since Karl Malone scored 1,500 points in 12 straight years, from the 1986-87 season to 1997-98, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Bryant also needs just 11 points to pass Elvin Hayes for seventh place on the NBA all-time scoring list.
The Thunder have lost their last two games, including a 23-point shellacking Friday in Orlando. However, they have not lost three straight games all season, one of four NBA teams this year to share that distinction. Including the loss to the Lakers on January 17, the Thunder are 9-8 in their last 17 games. They are currently in first place in the Northwest Division and hold the fourth seed in the Western Conference, 3½ games behind the Lakers. Oklahoma City is 20-8 at home this season. The Lakers are 20-11 on the road this season, the fourth best road record in the NBA.