L.A. 104, OKC 120: April 10 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening home contest against Oklahoma City, the Lakers looking to snap a four-game losing streak, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins

7:41 Despite shooting mostly jumpers, the Thunder barely missed in the opening four minutes, connecting on 7-of-8 shots to open a 15-11 lead. Even Kendrick Perkins hit an elbow jumper when L.A. refused to guard him for a good four seconds, despite the lowest trajectory in the history of jump shots. Meanwhile, L.A. had made only 3-of-8 shots, the effort there but the rhythm not just yet after four straight losses due mostly to that lack of full intensity.

5:45 Phil Jackson often calls plays for Gasol out of time outs, as he did to create a 1-on-1 for the Spaniard on Perkins (who was a big part of the pregame discussion due to his comments calling Gasol “soft”), which Gasol used to drop a lefty hook over the former Celtic. He’d score again on the next possession, but L.A. still trailed by 10 due to OKC’s continued hot shooting (11-of-15), including Durant’s 5-of-6.

0:02.7 Two free throws from Matt Barnes allowed L.A. to leave the first down only five points despite the Thunder shooting the lights out at 67 percent (14-of-22), to L.A.’s 47 percent (9-of-19). Much of the Lakers’ work came at the foul line, as they converted 12-of-14.

7:20 OKC’s shooting didn’t slow to start the second, getting its lead back to 10 at 49-39, while some players on L.A.’s second unit continued to struggle, namely Shannon Brown (whom, in related news, Jackson said simply hasn’t been playing well for a period of weeks). A few mistakes on defense saw Jackson remove Brown in favor of Luke Walton with 9:20 left in the period, and Walton promptly found Bynum for a dunk under the rim.

5:11 Perkins, trying to fight L.A.’s entire team, got locked up with Bryant until the two received matching fouls and technicals. Bryant responded by hitting a three to cut OKC’s lead to nine, though he would need to avoid getting another T in the season in order not to receive a suspension either this season (if he gets a tech vs. San Antonio) or next (if he gets one in the final game against Sacramento). However, Bryant’s 14th T, which happened in Portland on Friday, could still be rescinded by the NBA.

0:00 Apparently it wasn’t a good idea for Perkins on the short term at least, since L.A. went on a 20-10 run to close the half after the extra-curricular activity from Perk. Bryant finished the half with 22 points, hitting his eighth field goal in 11 attempts with 11 seconds left, while Gasol added 18 points himself on 7-of-9 shooting.

9:17 After a productive first half on offense, L.A. couldn’t make a thing to start the second, going 0-for-6 as the Thunder re-opened an 8-point lead. Jackson called an early time out to talk things over, though two of the misses were a block at the rim and missed layup from Bryant, thanks to a helping Serge Ibaka.

7:45 Well, that worked. Out of the time out, Artest converted a layup, Fisher a transition three and Gasol a powerful dunk to cut OKC’s lead back to one. He’d add two free throws on the next possession to match Bryant’s 22 points.

2:23 OKC went on an 8-0 run after L.A. took its first lead, only to see the Lakers respond with a 10-0 burst of their own capped by Steve Blake’s second three and two Artest free throws. The Lakers were doing it by taking care of the basketball, committing only one turnover while forcing 11 on OKC, including Artest’s steal that set up his layup. L.A. would close the quarter with a 90-88 lead, committing just one turnover to that point.

8:48 Brown, however, committed two TO’s in the next two minutes … it still looked to be a good start to the fourth from L.A.’s struggling bench, but after Blake hit his third three and Odom scored twice, L.A. committed another turnover and missed two more shots while OKC went on a 6-0 run, taking the lead back.

3:10 A real tough and-1 layup through contact from Perkins got Bryant up to 31 points, and the Lakers a 104-103 lead. No. 24 had been terrific all evening. The Thunder, however, answered with a triple from Sefolosha, who hadn’t taken a shot since the first quarter, then got possession back with L.A.’s fifth T.O. of the fourth.

0:00 Yet in the last three minutes, L.A.’s offense suddenly disappeared, Bryant was turning the ball over and missing shots, and OKC ran out to a 17-2 finish even if aided by unnecessary fouls in the last minute by Artest (who fouled out) that offered six free points. The dagger came with 40.4 seconds left, Westbrook converting an and-1 three-pointer to open a 113-104 margin that would finish at 120-106.