Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening contest against 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: Nash, Bryant, Clark, World Peace, Sacre
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
5:35 The Lakers and Thunder took turns scoring early, with all 10 players on the court notching at least two points in the first six minutes, though it was OKC taking a 16-12 lead into the first time out after Thabo Sefolosha hit the first three of the game. Out of a time out, the Thunder pushed its lead to nine with five straight Kevin Durant points, before Antawn Jamison’s layup cut the margin to 21-14.
0:00 Things went wrong for the Lakers throughout the middle period of the quarter, OKC extending the lead further to 11, but the final three minutes belonged to the home team. With Earl Clark serving as a catalyst in his first start after that terrific road game at San Antonio (22 points, 13 boards), L.A. scored the final 11 points of the period to tie it at 25 after one. It didn’t hurt L.A. that Durant sat for the final three minutes, and it would be him who’d break the run upon starting the second quarter with a driving layup.
9:19 Chris Duhon hit 1 of 2 free throws to put the Lakers up 31-30, but the Thunder turned it up from there, going on a burst that four minutes later had produced a 47-37 lead at the 5:16 mark. Westbrook and Kevin Martin were doing the damage, Martin hitting two triples amidst the move that had L.A. reeling…
… Meanwhile, the Lakers got some bad news: further tests on the hip of Jordan Hill revealed that he’d need season-ending surgery. Hill had been playing very well off the bench before going down against the Nuggets on Sunday. For those looking for a positive: the play of Clark since Hill went out. But tough news for both Hill and his team, nonetheless.
0:00 L.A. cut the lead to five on a few occasions, but it was all Durant in the final minutes, as he reached a +27 in the half by draining a buzzer-beating three with Clark and Bryant failing to communicate on a rotation. The margin was 64-48, thanks in no part to L.A.’s 0 for 11 from three-point range. Those missed threes had been absolutely killing the Lakers at home, as in the last five at Staples, they’d managed to hit only 25 percent from deep. If you’re searching for answers, one could be that guys are pressing, trying so hard to break out of the slump, because the shots have been open.
7:47 There would be no Lakers burst out of the halftime gates to get back into it; instead, the Thunder used a 9-6 push, Durant adding two more triples (34 points on 12 of 17 field goals) in a 76-54 game. Steve Nash pulled up for a triple on the other end, but Durant then drilled yet another long jumper.
0:00 0:46.1 As always, Bryant kept playing, converting two free throws (he’d hit 10 of 11 after missing his first two) and then a pull-up three-pointer to reach 26 points. Durant, however, was up to 40 points, Westbrook 17 with 10 assists, as the Thunder led 93-73 after three quarters. Generally, NBA teams try to cut the lead to 10 with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter to have a chance; doing so would be beyond difficult, of course.
7:31 Bryant returned, the Lakers not conceding victory just yet as they trimmed the lead to 16 … but OKC responded with a quick 6-0 run, restoring a 22-point margin, into a Lakers time out. The crowd was not amused, as a most difficult of seasons wore on.
0:00 Bryant, Nash and MWP left around the 4:20 mark, garbage time eventually ending with a 116-101 OKC victory. Durant finished with 42 points, eight boards and five assists, Westbrook 27 points, 10 dimes and seven boards for the visitors. Bryant managed to score 28 (you can never fault his effort), and Earl Clark had a second straight double-double with 10 points, 10 boards, three assists and three dimes. As a team, the Lakers were horrendous from three, hitting only 6 of 28 (21.4 percent), in a stat that’s been killing them of late at home (25 percent in their last six at Staples).
It was the sixth consecutive loss for the Lakers, with Cleveland coming up on Sunday, L.A.’s chance to snap what would match the worst losing streak since 2006-07 if they can’t turn it around. We’ll see you there.