Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at STAPLES Center as the Lakers looked to bounce back from a Sunday loss, 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, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Thunder: R. Westbrook, T. Sefolosha, K. Durant, J. Green, N. Krstic
6:07 In the Lakers’ first six minutes against the Thunder since the first round of last year’s playoffs, many of the same concepts prevailed in what wound up a 15-12 edge for the home team. When the Lakers slowed the game down and got the ball inside, they were successful, as seen by Andrew Bynum’s 3-for-4 FG start, while two turnovers led to Thunder run outs at the other end, with Russell Westbrook reaching six points. The game plan for L.A. is to limit turnovers to keep the athletic OKC squad from running, and use matchup advantages with Bynum (Nenad Krstic) and Gasol (Jeff Green), which should tell the tale of the game.
0:54 In a manner of 10 seconds free of Ron Artest, who got cross matched in transition, Kevin Durant scored five points, first after drawing Steve Blake’s foul on an arm swing through from the three-point line, then with a steal of Shannon Brown at midcourt, resulting in his dunk, to put the Thunder up 28-26 after the Lakers had led by as many as seven points. The theme continued to be about transition opportunities, with eight of those Thunder points coming on the fast break off Lakers mistakes. Brown did pull the Lakers back even by the break, however, with a transition layup, knotting the score at 28 after one.
7:11 A pretty alley-oop layup from Blake to Odom made it a 36-35 Thunder lead, though a Lakers second unit with Gasol on the floor while Durant and Westbrook rested wasn’t able to gain any traction, due in large part to solid low post defense from Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka. Ibaka would add a free throw as Westbrook checked back in, Durant at the scorer’s table and Bryant still on the bench after taking just one first quarter shot with four assists.
3:48 Lakers opponents used to spend a lot of time worrying about how many times Bryant would get to the foul line in games, but the I-can-get-to-the-line-whenever-I-want card seems to be now controlled by Durant, who shot his seventh free throw after slight contact from Bynum in the paint. A great foul shooter (88 percent), Durant made ‘em all to keep the Thunder within three points despite tough paint buckets from Bryant and Odom.
0:00 The final few minutes of the third was one part a Kobe-attacking-the-rim show, and one part Westbrook doing damage at the other end. Kobe’s push included a two-handed slam through traffic, plus a tough finish off glass, while Westbrook hit two foul shots after drawing a transition PF, then added a pull-up J to close the half, keeping L.A.’s lead at 58-55.
9:06 Fisher was struggling with his shot of late coming into Monday’s game, making only 3-of-18 total shots in his last three games, and notching nine total field goals in his last five. That didn’t stop him from making 5-of-8 field goals tonight, however, including two triples and five straight points early in the third to reach a season-high 15 points. After his triple, he found Artest for an open look on the next possession, putting the Lakers up seven. The run became 11-0 moments later when Bryant beat the shot clock with a high-arching three of his own.
5:02 A terrific all-around stretch from the Lakers eventually resulted in an 18-2 push that opened their lead up to 76-61 when Bryant nailed a tough baseline fade-away over James Harden. Bryant was the spark plug, with two Gasol free throws and the Spaniard’s tip in adding to the effort.
2:16 The Thunder, however, reeled off eight straight points of their own, Durant hitting a pull-up jumper to make it 76-69 as he tried to rebound from the field goal struggles he suffered in the first round of last year’s playoff series. He’d made just 5-of-16 shots to that point, after Artest held him 13 percentage points below his season average in Round 1.
0:00 OKC kept up its counter run, getting points in transition from Westbrook (24 for the game) to cut a once 15-point lead down to just two, at least before Steve Blake’s first shot attempt of the game sank home, a three from the corner in front of the Thunder bench, to give L.A. an 81-75 lead after three.
8:22 With Artest sitting on the bench after doing so well on Durant, the All-Star scored six points in a manner of three minutes, but the Lakers were converting at the other end to add two points to their lead, 90-83 with Blake, Brown, Walton, Odom and Gasol on the floor. Bynum had opened the quarter on the floor, but picked up two fouls in 15 seconds to head to the bench with 10 points and 10 boards.
5:51 If you’ve watched the ESPN 30 for 30 series documentary on Reggie Miller ("Winning Time”) you recognize the kick-out-my-legs-to-draw-a-foul thing that Thunder reserve James Harden tried for the third time, to no avail. He did, however, can the triple to counter a deep two from Bryant, keeping the Thunder within six points as they attempted a final push.
3:49 Gasol nailed a 19-foot jumper just after his layup at the rim to push L.A.’s lead back to 10, much to Bryant’s liking, as the giver of assist No. 7 chest bumped the Spaniard in a firm to quite firm manner into a Thunder time out. OKC, however, came out of the T.O. with a big charge, getting back-to-back buckets from Westbrook — pulling up on pick and rolls — and an alley-oop from the UCLA product to Ibaka that made it 98-94.
0:15.1 A weird final minute saw Bryant and Westbrook miss five straight total free throws before Bryant found the range with 15 tics left to put the Lakers up 101-94, sealing the victory. Those two makes got Kobe to 6-of-11 from the line and to 21 points to match Gasol, plus a team-high seven assists. The win, more importantly, put the Lakers at 31-12 on the season, dropping the Thunder to 27-14, three games behind the Lakers for second place in the Western Conference. Stay tuned for postgame numbers in advance of L.A.’s two-game trip to Dallas (Wednesday) and Denver (Friday).