Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening road contest at Oklahoma City, the Lakers coming a tough road win at Dallas on Wednesday, 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, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: R. Westbrook, D. Cook, K. Durant, S.Ibaka, K. Perkins
12:00 Hi folks, and welcome to OKC. There was some question about whether or not key sixth man James Harden would play for the Thunder after tweaking his wrist last night, but he was set to play, leaving Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison – both good role players – as the only outs for the home team. L.A. was fully healthy, but had some tired legs after a tough win in Dallas the night before. They weren’t able to bring it against the Knicks after a tough win at Boston early this month, but we’ll see what we get tonight.
3:59 After eight minutes, the results were pretty good. L.A. was largely able to control tempo, and used a 6-0 run capped by a fast break dunk from Bynum (you’d expect that more from Durant or Westbrook, right?) that gave L.A. a 13-11 lead and forced Scott Brooks into a time out. In came subs Harden, N. Mohammad for OKC, and Murphy/Barnes/Blake for L.A.
0:00 A really strong defensive first quarter helped the Lakers claim a 23-19 lead, the Thunder shooting just 37 percent (7-for-19) and Kobe hitting three straight shots after starting 1-for-6 to reach 10 points, one more than Durant. Another key: the Lakers held OKC without a single fast break point, showing that they controlled tempo.
8:47 With OKC backup PG Eric Maynor out for the season with a torn ACL and Harden not in to run pick and roll with Harden, the Thunder second unit wasn’t as formidable, L.A. keeping its four-point lead behind two Blake jumpers.
5:33 Not hard to see why the Thunder were able to erase a six-point Lakers lead to take a 34-33 lead: seven fast break points in the first six minutes of the second quarter after zero in the first quarter. Harden’s dunk off his run out from Kobe’s missed three is your example.
0:00 OKC found some momentum through the middle of the quarter, but an off-balance three from World Peace (his first triple was perfectly balanced, as LAL’s coaches have been stressing) sank through, and Fisher followed with a fast break runner to put L.A. up a point. Their lead was two with one second left, looking like 43-41 heading into halftime, but instead OKC managed to score five points in the final second, getting a Westbrook three, then a steal and jumper from Durant in 0.8 seconds to make it 46-43. A terrible ending to an otherwise solid half for the Lakers.
9:30 Guess who hit a third three-pointer of the game for a season high? Since you can’t respond in this format, we’ll tell you: Metta World Peace. He also led L.A. with four assists, but after his triple cut the lead to one, the Thunder went on a 5-0 run to open a 56-50 lead, their biggest of the evening.
2:19 It became more and more of a struggle for L.A. to keep up. Without rest and with the schedule as it’s been, trying to track back on Durant and Westbrook in particular wasn’t happening, and the half court offense got stagnant at the same time. The result was a 69-58 Thunder lead after a Harden run out, the 17th fast break point since the start of the second quarter.
10:32 With an 11-point cushion heading into the fourth, Blake’s pull-up jumper and then two free throws cut the lead to 73-66, hoping to give L.A. some life. Instead, two Lakers fouls put the Thunder at the line four times, putting the lead right back into double digits. Gasol had been the stand out Laker for the second straight night, totaling 19 points (8-of-13 FG’s) and eight boards.
8:27 But with Durant resting, L.A. scored two straight (Bynum’s lefty hook going down, but it was just his fourth make in 13 attempts) hoops to cut the lead to seven. The two teams then traded hoops for four possessions, before Westbrook’a and-1 leaner in the paint restored the lead to 10. It was a pretty tough ask for L.A. to have enough legs on its fourth game in five nights against the league’s most athletic (or 2nd most after Miami, at worst) team.
4:15 A Gasol and-1 still found L.A. down 88-77. It was mostly basket trading at this juncture, Kobe getting to the foul line to reach 24 points, and Durant getting to the rim as a key to his 29 points.
0:00 OKC ultimately ran out to a 100-85 victory. The loss dropped L.A. to 20-14, though a split of at Dallas/at OKC wasn’t a bad way to end a four games in five nights stretch. Overall, there have been some pretty positive signs from the Lakers in the past few weeks, and the schedule gets less difficult, particularly on the road, in the second half. We’ll see you next for a home game against Minnesota after the All-Star break, on Feb. 29. Enjoy the break.