Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening contest at Oklahoma City with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Duhon, Bryant, World Peace, Jamison and Howard
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
7:00 With his third field goal in the first five minutes, Antwan Jamison was off to a good start, and a corner three from Metta World Peace moments later allowed the Lakers their first lead of the game at 15-13. Jamison will be key in this one, as his outside shooting forces Serge Ibaka out of the paint more than he’d like, and thus unable to protect the rim as much as he’d like.
1:53 After a terrific second half against New Orleans when he shut down the paint, Howard was again strong early in this one, totaling eight points and 10 rebounds plus two assists, while drawing most of OKC’s five fouls (to LAL’s one). He hit 4 of his 5 free throws, to boot, the main reason the Lakers took a 27-26 lead out of the first even after Russell Westbrook got a leaning three-pointer to fall at the buzzer, his third of the quarter.
8:35 Jodie Meeks was holding it down for the second unit, hitting his second three-pointer as Kevin Martin failed to close out on him with a hand up, then duping Martin into a foul on the next trip down. He hit all three free throws to reach nine points in six minutes, and put the Lakers up 37-35.
0:00 L.A. was actually playing pretty good defense, even as Durant had early success against the second unit, but they could do nothing with Westbrook pulling up from 18+ feet and draining eight of his 11 makes from that range, including five three-pointers, for 27 points. That was certainly the main factor in OKC’s taking a 67-53 lead into halftime, despite a 12-point, 11-board double-double from Howard.
9:20 The first points of the game from Chris Duhon came on a three-pointer, Kobe’s fourth assist, after Bryant reached 17 points of his own on 5 of 10 field goals. The Duke product added another triple moments later to cut the lead to 12 points.
2:00 Even with Bryant’s ridiculous and-1 three-pointer over the NBA’s tallest player in 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet, LAL still trailed by 15, as the Thunder were getting a terrific floor game from Durant: 28 points on 9 of 14 FG’s, 8 of 8 FT’s plus six boards and four dimes.
10:35 Trying to make a final push, Bryant stayed on the floor to start the fourth, and hit two free throws before two more from Meeks to cut the lead to 11. L.A. continued to stay in the contest, looking to trim the lead to single digits and get some momentum before Howard returned.
9:42 However, the lead was right back to 15 moments later, when L.A. failed to box out Collison (working hard inside as ever) as the Kansas product tipped in Westbrook’s seventh miss of the second half (10 of 16 in the first), Martin hit two free throws and Hill blew an open layup on the other end. Two minutes later, the lead was back at 7:40, after Nick Collison drew two more offensive fouls on the Lakers, leading first to his two free throws (bonus already) and then to his dunk off Westbrook’s ninth assist.
3:29 Finally getting some stops, L.A. was getting more Kobe on the other end, his 32 points with six assists helping L.A. cut the lead to 10 when Meeks made a great play, drawing a foul after an offensive rebound through several OKC players.
0:20.7 The Lakers didn’t quit, as Jodie Meeks twice got to the hoop with impunity for layups (17 points with five boards) and Duhon hit his third triple of the second half, cutting the deficit to only five in the final minute. Two Westbrook free throws came as L.A. had to foul, giving him 32 points, two fewer than Durant’s total, but Kobe responded with a triple to cut the lead to four with 14 seconds left, giving him 35 points, but that would be all. The final: OKC 114, LAL 108.
In essence, the Thunder got fantastic individual games from both its two stars, while L.A. had two of its four stars watching in street clothes. Not a bad effort from the road team, who travel back for one home game against Utah before a five-game road trip across the east coast. We’ll see you on Sunday.