GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 27 26 22 33 108
Play by Play Oklahoma City Thunder 26 41 22 25 114




Thunder hold off Lakers' late charge, win 114-108

By JEFF LATZKE


Posted Dec 08 2012 12:30AM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant had 36 points, Russell Westbrook scored 27 of his 33 in the first half to stake Oklahoma City to a commanding lead and the Thunder beat the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers 114-108 Friday night.

NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant had 35 points to lead Los Angeles, which trailed by as much as 19 before rallying to get within four in the final minute. Dwight Howard added 23 points and 18 rebounds for the Lakers.

What could have been an early showdown between championship contenders instead had the Lakers limping in with a losing record and three key players out because of injuries.

Westbrook's big first half put the Thunder in control, but L.A. charged back with a late 27-12 run to make it interesting.

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited






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Points Durant (OKC), 36
Rebounds Howard, 18
Assists Westbrook (OKC), 8
Steals Bryant and Sefolosha (OKC), 3
Blocks Bryant, 2


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On tonight's game:
“[The Thunder] are a good team. I thought the first half, really the second quarter, [Russell] Westbrook who can do that got loose a little bit, but we fought back and I thought we played hard. [The Thunder] had a couple guys who had big games, you know, they’re a good team.”

On Westbrook’s second quarter performance:
“When [Westbrook] does that going vertical and stopping on a dime…you kind of just have to tip your hat [to him] a little bit. We maybe could have jammed him a little bit. We tried to do some things [to stop him], but I thought in the second half Chris Duhon came back and had a great second half [defending Westbrook]. [Duhon] did a good job and helped us get back in the game.”

On the Lakers’ second quarter performance:
“We’ve got things that we have to work on. We got to get [Pau Gasol] and [Steve Nash] back. They set a bar and they play very well. We know where we’ve got to go. I’m very encouraged about some of the stuff we’re doing. I thought Dwight [Howard] and Kobe [Bryant] had very good games and that’s important that they can play together and they did. I thought Jodie Meeks played as hard as anyone I’ve seen play hard before. You’re not going to see anyone play that hard.”

On the Thunder’s offense:
“A lot of [the game] it was Westbrook. He just went crazy on us. [The Thunder] are a great shooting basketball team and they hit a hot quarter.”




Jodie Meeks:

On this game being an ‘encouraging loss’:
“The whole team played hard. We didn’t get the result that we hoped for, but I thought everybody played as hard as they could and we can build on it.”

On Westbrook’s performance:
“Tonight [Westbrook] was just hot. He hit some incredible shots and we played good defense on him and he hit some tough shots, so you have to tip your hat to him.”

On if his confidence level is going up with Coach D’Antoni’s system:
“I think Coach D’Antoni gives me a lot of confidence when I go in there. Just play my game, play hard and shoot the ball. I think making shots is my roll on this team. The more minutes I get, the more confidence I get and I’ll keep moving forward with that.”




Metta World Peace:

On Russell Westbrook’s performance:
“I was paying attention to the whole game, not one single player. When we play basketball it’s team versus team and the best team should win.”

On the Lakers as a team:
“We have a better team this year. We made a couple errors last year and I want to move forward and focus on this year.”

On being outscored 41-to-26 in the second quarter:
“During the second quarter, Oklahoma City was a better team than the Lakers. There are no excuses.”

On if the game was an “encouraging loss”:
“No loss is encouraging. You want to win every game. We will come back and do what it takes to win the next game.”




Kobe Bryant:

On if the Lakers have changed since their last trip to OKC (2012 Playoffs):
“Yeah it doesn’t seem like it. I feel like we need to get stronger in a few areas, execution.”

On areas Los Angeles and he personally can improve in:
“Just minor things, just a little bit of execution. For example, there was a possession where I had [Antawn] Jamison in the corner. There was a little bit of miscommunication, he’s used to sliding up, and I’m used to guys sitting in the corner. So I throw it to the corner, and as he’s sliding up, we get a turnover. Little turnovers like that, little mistakes like that are critical crutches in the game.




Scott Brooks:

Opening statement:
“I thought that was a solid win. Some very good stretches of basketball. We held them to a low percentage. In the second half I thought we had some not-so-good stretches. We turned the ball over too many times—I think 9 or 10 times in that third quarter. Defensively, we relaxed in the fourth quarter. They’re a good basketball team.They have a lot of talent and they’re just figuring things out. We knew going into this game it was going to be a tough game because they have scorers all over the floor.”

On the difference in the game tonight:
“I thought Nick (Collison) impacted the game on both ends. I think he ended up seven rebounds, 13 points but two big charges and a lot of tough post play. I thought Nick was a big part of it. Thabo (Sefolosha) was a big part of it also guarding Kobe (Bryant). Obviously we all know Kobe is one of the best players ever. What Thabo did; just get into him and stay with him and trying to make him take tough shots and Kobe took a lot of tough shots tonight. We made some winning basketball plays when we needed to.”

On defense:/b>
“I thought the third quarter we did a much better job of contesting and rebounding. In the second quarter, I thought we just contested. We didn’t rebound. They were getting too many offensive rebounds that first half. I thought the third quarter, we did a much better job. We just turned the ball over and we got out of rhythm offensively, but we won the game against a very good team so there’s room for improvement and we understand that but we know going forward they’re going to be a much better team when we face them again. They’ve had some injuries they’re going to recover from it.”

On Russell Westbrook’s first half:
“He was hot. His first shot was a solid three and I think he hit four or five in that first half. He has the ability to get hot. We have some guys on our team that have the ability to do that and he was the one in that first half. He obviously wasn’t hot in the second half but he gave us a lot of energy and a lot of toughness. He also passed the ball very well tonight. I think he had eight assists and only two turnovers.”

On the matching-up against the Lakers:
“We really just measure ourselves with ourselves and see how we play and how we can get better. Obviously, we scout and we take our job very seriously of knowing our opponent but we really focus on what we do and we have to continue to control what we do. We’ve done a good job of that over the years and that’s not going to change. We all know that the Lakers are one of the best teams. They don’t have the record right now but they will. They’re going to get some guys healthy and they’re going to get some rhythm but they have the best center in basketball and they have one of the best players ever. Steve Nash will come back and Coach D’Antoni will continue to get that team better.”




Kevin Durant:

On respect for Kobe and tonight’s game:
“Well first off it’s a competitive game and he plays hard every minute he is on the floor. He makes you want to step up and play…I mean they are a tough team and they fought hard all night. We made it tough for ourselves…we just have to keep moving forward.”

On fine tuning how to play with Russell:
“Well, our chemistry is just getting better every single day. Guys are moving the ball…But we did a good job and finding passes. I wish we could have finished a little bit more but we had good intentions.




Thabo Sefolosha:

On defending Kobe Bryant:
“It’s tough. You know he’s going to make tough shots and get a high volume of shots during the game. All you can do is try your best to stay in front of him and rely on the help.”

On Thunder’s first half run:
“It was good I think the defense was active. As soon as we got a steal or rebound, I think we were looking to push the ball and that was efficient.”




Russell Westbrook:

Transition and fast breaks in the first half:
“It was important. We are good at home at pushing the ball and I think tonight we did a great job. We started off early getting rebounds and getting out on the break.”

Thabo Sefolosha’s defense on Kobe Bryant:
“We just expect him (Kobe Bryant) to shoot. Thabo did a good job of making him take tough shots. We live with that.”






LAKERS-HORNETS PREVIEW

By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN

Posted Dec 05 2012 12:45AM

By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN Posted Dec 07 2012 12:12AM Kobe Bryant just became the fifth player in NBA history to surpass 30,000 points.

It seems possible that Kevin Durant will eventually join him on that list.

The league's top two scorers will be in the spotlight Friday night with Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder on a season-high six-game win streak heading into their first meeting with Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers since last season's playoffs.

Bryant added to his status as one of the game's greatest players Wednesday with 29 points in a 103-87 victory at New Orleans, giving him 30,016 for his career. Commissioner David Stern offered Bryant a congratulatory handshake before the Lakers star joined a list that includes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

"It's pretty awesome," Bryant said. "These are players I respect tremendously and obviously grew up idolizing and watching and learned a great deal from."

The 24-year-old Durant grew up watching the 34-year-old Bryant. The Thunder star, who became the second-youngest player to reach 10,000 points in the season opener, remains in awe.

"I know he's an old fart," Durant said. "Since I was about 8 years old, watching him dominate every year he's been in the league, it's been a joy to watch. It was just an honor and a blessing to play on his team this summer in the Olympics.

"To get 30,000 points, man, you're one of only five guys to do it so far, it's just an unbelievable accomplishment. It's good to say you've played in the game with a great player, probably the best player in my era that I've ever seen. It's great to have somebody to kind of aim to and look up to and just compete against on a high level."

Durant averaged 26.8 points and Bryant 31.2 in last year's Western Conference semifinal series that Oklahoma City (15-4) won in five games.

That series defeat no doubt caused Los Angeles to make changes, most notably adding superstars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

Nash has played in only two games due to a leg injury and Howard - coming off back surgery - hasn't been nearly as effective as many expected. The Lakers (9-10) are 4-5 since hiring Mike D'Antoni as coach, although Durant still sees them as a threat in the West.

"It's early in the year, they're a really good team," Durant said. "They've got so many good players, so many champions. They're going to turn this thing around pretty quickly."

Bryant leads the league with 28.0 points per game, but Los Angeles is 1-7 when he scores at least 30. Durant, who scored 32 in Tuesday's 117-111 victory at Brooklyn, is averaging 26.5.

No mention of the Thunder is complete without Russell Westbrook, who victimized the Lakers by averaging 25.6 points against them in last season's playoffs.

In the middle, Howard and Oklahoma City center Serge Ibaka will do battle in a matchup of premier shot blockers. Ibaka averages a league-high 3.3 blocks while Howard is fourth at 2.8.

Lakers big man Pau Gasol has missed the first two games of this three-game trip with tendinitis in both knees, and it's unclear if he'll return Friday. Antawn Jamison has started in his place, scoring 15 points in each game.

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #35 Durant  
  #4 JamisonPF #9 Ibaka  
  #12 Howard C #5 Perkins  
  #24 Bryant SG #2 Sefolosha  
  #21 Duhon PG #0 Westbrook  




Lakers Steve Blake
(abdominal surgery) is day-to-day.
Pau Gasol
(tendinitis, left and right knees) is out.
Jordan Hill
(herniated disc; sprained right wrist) is probable.
Steve Nash
(non-displaced fracture, left leg) is out.



12/07 - LAL @ OKC
01/11 - OKC @ LAL
01/27 - OKC @ LAL
03/05 - LAL @ OKC