1:25 PMLakers 101, Thunder 94: Jan. 17 Running Diary
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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