Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon 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, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, S. Ibaka, K. Perkins
2:30 The first nine minutes and change were marked by active defense from both teams, as the Lakers hit only 7 of 18 shots (38.9 percent) and the Thunder 7 of 21 (33.3 percent) towards a 17-all tie into a time out late in the period. Kobe Bryant hit 3 of 5 shots and added a pair of assists, while Kevin Durant had already taken eight shots, hitting three, for the visitors. L.A. led by as many as four at 17-13 before missing a pair of layups and seeing OKC tie it up off their sixth offensive board.
0:00 The Lakers closed the quarter in style, with Nash hitting consecutive jumpers – including a triple – and Antwan Jamison drawing a 3-point shooting foul to make it a 27-23 lead for the home team. All seven Lakers who checked in scored at least two points, and the active D held OKC below 40 percent shooting despite many second chances off seven offensive boards.
8:59 Speaking of Jamison … he got hot after those free throws, hitting two jumpers, including a triple, and adding an and-1 near the rim to reach 10 bench points in his seven minutes, keeping the Lakers up 36-29. The lead had grown to as many as nine before Durant checked in and promptly scored (though he had just nine points on 11 shots, well below his usual high efficiency).
0:00 After missing his first eight shots pretty badly on the whole, Russell Westbrook hit the final attempt of the half to give OKC a 53-52 lead. L.A. missed nine free throws (Howard was 1 for 8) in the statistic that was most evidently a problem,
8:55 OKC’s biggest lead of the game came courtesy of a Durant three-pointer, his first, though Bryant answered with a jumper on the other end that made it 60-57. Westbrook continued to miss, falling to 1 for 12 from the field, though he did have 10 assists and eight boards. Bryant was also on triple-double watch with his 11 points, eight boards and six dimes.
5:03 In for Howard – saddled with four fouls – was Gasol, who hit for the 4th time in five attempts to reach 10 points, a game after he made 8 of 9 shots against Utah (85.7% in last two). His jumper tied what was becoming an increasingly fiery game at 63; Bryant had drawn a technical foul for pushing Westbrook after Westy swung away at Bryant from behind (shooting foul) in transition, and the crowd wasn’t pleased that Russell didn’t get a matching T for a (very slight) push back.
0:00 Bryant was brilliant through three quarters, closing the quarter with 15 points (5 of 8 FG’s, 5 of 6 FT’s), 10 assists and nine rebounds a game after he was one board shy of a triple-double. That propelled L.A. to a brief lead, before a quarter-closing bucket from Westbrook tied it at 75 heading into the fourth. Gasol
8:24 With Bryant and Nash getting some rest, the group of Duhon-Meeks-MWP-Gasol-Howard started the quarter very well, taking an 86-82 lead behind five straight points from Meeks, a tough Gasol hook, an MWP three (his third) and 1 of 2 Howard free throws. OKC got within two when Bryant and Nash returned at the 7-minute mark, however, when Westbrook stripped Duhon and scored on the other end.
5:14 Bryant’s 11th assists got Earl Clark a dunk, Nash hit a technical free throw and Bryant followed with a long two-point jumper to put the Lakers up 93-87, in good position to try and seal perhaps their biggest victory of the season. Could they hold on?…
1:31 L.A. got a stop, then a beautiful left-handed hoop from Kobe, to make it a 99-93 lead, but Durant drew a foul and hit both free throws to again cut it to four with 1:31 to play. The drama continued, as Kobe’s 14th dime of the game was the biggest one, as he drew the defense by beating Sefolosha off the dribble before finding a cutting Gasol for a lay-in w/1:09 left. Great play by both of ‘em, and the Lakers led by six.
0:00 Westbrook drew a foul on MWP and hit 1 of 2 free throws, when Bryant fittingly hit the dagger, a 20-foot jumper from the right wing that made it 103-96 with 37 seconds left. Two free throws from Nash followed Howard’s strip of Westbrook, to allow a final margin of 105-96. L.A. closed the game on an 8-3 run to seal their biggest victory of the season against a team that’s been the West’s best at this point of the season. Bryant was fantastic, finishing with 21 points on an efficient 8 of 12 shooting, plus 14 assists – his second straight game hitting that number, one short of his career-high set in 2002 – and nine rebounds, as he missed a triple-double by one board for the second straight game. Gasol was big off the bench, scoring 16 points on 7 of 10 field goals (7 of 8 the game before) with four assists and four boards, while World Peace totaled 15 points and 10 boards in nearly 43 minutes.
A second straight win put the Lakers at 19-25, with New Orleans coming in on Tuesday, in advance of a 7-game road trip. We’ll see you Tuesday.