Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening home contest against Oklahoma City, the Lakers looking to bounce back from two losses in their past three home games, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Sessions, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
12:00 A touching tribute video for Derek Fisher got the crowd, standing and applauding as loudly as they might for a huge playoff win, pumped for what promised to be a fun evening of hoops between the West’s top and third squads record wise. Moments later Bynum threw down an alley-oop from Gasol to open the scoring, and Bryant nailed a wing jumper as the fans stayed on their feet.
3:18 Playing perhaps their best end-to-end stretch of ball of the season, the Lakers exploded with a 13-0 run, capped by Gasol’s and-1 layup off Kobe’s assist. Meanwhile, Bynum was controlling the paint defensively, which L.A. has been so needing in the past 10 games or so amidst his torrid scoring streak, and had already amassed six rebounds, more than he notched at Golden State (5) and vs. Memphis (4) in the last two games.
0:00 Capping the scoring in a very impressive first quarter for the Lakers was Kobe, whose 1-legged Dirk Nowitzki shot made it 30-18. Bryant had nine, Bynum eight, Gasol five while active defense had OKC shooting only 28 percent from the field.
7:39 OKC showed why its the league’s best shot blocking team, twice blocking World Peace at the rim to reach eight, and Fisher – perhaps knowing where to attack L.A.’s defense – scored his third field goal of the quarter on an and-1 leaner, his free throw cutting the once 12-point lead to five with a 9-2 Thunder push to open the second.
4:42 With Bynum and Bryant’s return came better defense, highlighted by a big Bynum swat at the rim, even if he promptly turned it over trying to lead the fast break. Gasol added two field goals, and L.A.’s lead was 39-31 after Blake finished at the rim in the absence of OKC help defense.
0:00 Even with L.A. largely controlling the first half, the Thunder stuck around to trail by only five at the break, thanks to back-to-back top-of-the-key jumpers from Serge Ibaka, including a buzzer beater. He helped make up for a 5 of 16 half from Durant, 3 for 10 effort from Westbrook and 2 of 9 performance from Harden. Kobe was 5 of 11 and Bynum 5 of 9 to pace the Lakers, 26 points between them, though World Peace missed all six of his shots and Gasol was 4 of 10.
9:17 The Thunder came out of the half on an 8-0 run to take their first lead since early in the first, and worse for L.A., Gasol committed two fouls in a minute, and had to sit down with four total. Bynum missed a wide open look near the rim, World Peace fell to 0 for 7 with a miss from the corner and Sessions couldn’t get an open runner to go. Really rough stretch for L.A., its momentum from the first half long gone.
4:39 OKC continued to control the period, their lead growing to as many as nine as Westbrook hit back-to-back jumpers from the left wing, when he’d struggled with his shot to that point (4-for-13 to start). L.A.’s offense struggled without Gasol, with Bynum committing his fourth turnover and the team converting only 2-of-11 shots.
1:07 L.A. was getting what it wanted defensively to a degree, Westbrook settling for long two’s, but he happened to be making them in the third, draining four shots from the perimeter to keep the Thunder up five despite four quick points from Steve Blake off the pine and a series of free throws from Bryant and Bynum (seven total).
0:00 Then Westbrook pulled up and nailed a buzzer-beating three to make it a 10-point Thunder lead, his fifth jump shot of the quarter, equaling L.A.’s total made field goals in the entire period. More concerning than an average shooter getting really hot: 17 offensive rebounds for the Thunder, resulting in 19 second chance points. Lots of work to do for a Lakers team that looked so dominant early.
8:43 A defensive breakdown on the weak side got Westbrook (30 points) a wide-open dunk, pushing OKC’s lead to a game-high 14 points, this one starting to get away from the Lakers, who couldn’t buy a bucket on the other end as ball movement became an afterthought.
6:00 Things just got worse for the Lakers, who saw OKC build a 19-point lead when Harden hit a pull-up three, the offensive continuing to look more out of sync than it had in weeks. Bryant managed to hit his first two jumpers of the half after an 0-for-6 third quarter, but was just 7 for 21 in the game. The Lakers converted 14 of 26 field goals in the first quarter, but had made only 16 of 48 since (33 percent).
2:36 The second World Peace three in as many minutes cut OKC’s lead to single digits at 96-87, but it was likely too little, too late. An odd disappearing act from a Lakers’ offense that had been excellent since Sessions came on board from the second quarter through the middle of the fourth, and some real tough shot making from Westbrook on the perimeter would spell doom for the Lakers.
0:00 The Lakers continued to score, reaching 93 points on two Gasol free throws after a Bynum put back, but Westbrook and Durant capped a terrific Thunder half with a bucket a piece, capping the third home loss in four games for the Lakers after they opened the season at 18-2 at Staples. They’d try to shake a rough feeling on Saturday, with New Orleans coming into town; we’ll see you there.