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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Oklahoma City Thunder 23 30 22 21 96
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 27 25 23 30 105
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Kobe leads Lakers past Oklahoma City 105-96

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Jan 27 2013 6:33PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant had 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, Steve Nash added seven of his 17 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes, and the Los Angeles Lakers held off the NBA-leading Oklahoma City Thunder 105-96 Sunday.

Pau Gasol scored 16 points in a reserve role as the Lakers picked up the most impressive victory of their thoroughly unimpressive season, coolly maintaining a small lead down the stretch of their second straight win after a four-game skid. Los Angeles had lost nine of its last 11 against the powerful Thunder, including four of five in the clubs' second-round playoff series last spring.

Kevin Durant scored 35 points and Russell Westbrook had 17 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the road-weary Thunder, who finished their longest trip of the season at 3-3.

Bryant and Westbrook briefly tangled in the third quarter in an exchange that earned a technical foul for Kobe. Both All-Star guards entered the fourth quarter needing just one rebound for a triple-double, but neither got it.

Westbrook also missed his first eight shots and 12 of his first 13 before finding his shot, but the Lakers didn't wilt down the stretch.

Los Angeles took the lead with 6:15 to play on a jumper by Metta World Peace, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers nursed a small advantage in the final minutes, going up 101-95 on Gasol's driving layup with 1:09 to play.

Bryant then hit a tough 19-foot jumper with 37 seconds left, and Westbrook couldn't answer. Durant didn't have a field goal in the final 6:39, scoring just seven points in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma City's third loss in 11 games.

Oklahoma City routed the Lakers at Staples Center 16 days ago, with Durant scoring 42 points and Westbrook adding 27 while Los Angeles played without Dwight Howard and Gasol.

Howard had eight points and 10 rebounds while fighting foul trouble and missing eight of his 10 free throws. Bryant and Nash led a passionate effort by the Lakers, whose season-long missteps and embarrassments have left them well out of the playoff picture heading into the second half of the season.

The Lakers got off to another solid start against the Thunder, with Antawn Jamison leading a 13-2 run spanning the first two quarters. Westbrook's awful shooting balanced Howard's 1-for-8 woes at the free-throw line in the first half, but Westbrook finally hit his first shot with 8 seconds left to put the Thunder up 53-52 at halftime.

The teams traded the lead 14 times in the first three quarters, entering the fourth tied at 75 despite the Lakers' 12-for-24 effort at the free-throw line and Westbrook's erratic shooting. Bryant also got a technical foul for a brief exchange with Westbrook, who fouled the Lakers star and then bumped him with a shoulder after Bryant put his hand on him.

Westbrook got a technical foul of his own with 5:22 to play after arguing a no-call.

NOTES: The clubs conclude their season series in Oklahoma City on March 5. ... Lakers owner Jerry Buss celebrated his 79th birthday. The Basketball Hall of Famer hasn't attended a game this season while dealing with health concerns. ... Derek Fisher, the five-time champion Lakers guard who finished last season with the Thunder, watched from a courtside seat. Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Alessandro Nivola, Horace Grant and baseball stars Matt Kemp, Vernon Wells and Michael Young also sat courtside.

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), 35
Rebounds Howard/World Peace, 10
Assists Bryant, 14
Steals Sefolosha (OKC), 3
Blocks Ibaka (OKC), 4
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On the game:
“We have made the second step. We did it the other day. We played the way we wanted to play and today just did it against probably the best team in the league. We can see our potential that we can live up to. And again it is the second step. We have a long ways to go.”

“A lot of people contributed. You can mention anybody and whoever went in the game did something good. But, just the overall feeling of sharing the ball, moving the ball, energy on defense, we’re just playing the game. Competing. And we did that for the last two games and if we can continue to do that, then we can live up, kind of, to our potential.”

“I am happy about how we are playing right now. But like I said, we have a big road trip ahead. Obviously we have the home game on Tuesday, but when we have a big road trip and that will be the telling tale. If we can continue with this energy and this type of playing, then yeah I will be real excited.”

“I think we played easy. Like I said, everyone contributed. Kobe starts it. Sharing the ball, he hasn’t forced a shot. He is moving the ball. He is playing great defense. It starts with him, but then everybody else is contributing.”




Kobe Bryant:

On what this win does for the team:
“It shows that we’re playing well. I think defensively we had a sound game plan, the strategy was very good, and we were able to implement it.”

On what made the team turnaround:
“We’re doing a good job right now of just being real with each other, and holding each other accountable. That makes a huge difference.”

On his mindset as far as distributing the ball:
“I’m trying to evolve and find out what we need as a ball club. I can take a lot of pressure off of Steve [Nash] to have to play-make all of the time. Instead of me being a finisher, it’s really facilitating, drawing the defense, and making plays. I game plan for it, and it seems to be working.”




Metta World Peace:

On best team win of the year:
“It was definitely a good team win. We just have to keep going that’s it. We just have to keep playing.”

On finding the winning formula:
“That’s an excuse, there’s no time to build on that. There’s only time to get better and move forward. We’re in the best situation that anybody could be in. We’re down and we have a chance to make history.”

On Kobe being key:
“The key is the best team is going to win to tell you the truth. We just have to keep playing basketball. We’ve been playing basketball for a long time. The best team is going to win, it’s that simple.”



Steve Nash:

On offensive blow in the past two games:
“It’s been great, thank you. Kobe has been great. He is playing like Magic Johnson. He’s taking the ball down, controlling the offense, creating opportunities for his teammates. I think everyone feels a part of it. I think that’s what we need. When you look at the scores, everyone is in double figures. We’re shooting a decent percentage and we’re making the defense honest. It’s much better that way it gets the bigs engaged. Also, it allows Kobe not to have to go against 5 guys if he’s looking to spread it around. I think most importantly our defense is better.”

On less analyzing and more playing:
“We can talk and talk but who cares? We have to come out and play the game. We have to play as a team, move the ball, and create opportunities for each other. I think we saw more of that. We have a long way to go but I think we showed that we can do it against a good team and score the ball. People talk about Mike’s system. People say oh, you can’t run but we don’t run so I don’t think that’s accurate. We’re still trying to find ourselves. We’d like to get in pick and rolls to get our bigs. That’s how we play inside out is pick and roll, get them diving, look for them inside and spread the floor.”




Dwight Howard:

On defense:
“Our rotations are there, we’re moving, we’re talking and we’re getting after it defensively. We have done a good job of not turning the ball over, which leads to a lot of fast breaks and that’s how teams were beating us earlier in the season.

On turning the corner and figuring things out:
“We have to stay humble and to stay focused. We just have to win games and make it to the playoffs. That’s our goal.”

On the Difference:
“We’ve done a better job on the defensive end. We’re just holding teams to one side. In the first half they got a lot of rebounds. Their guards did a good job of coming back. We have to make sure the guards stay in and box their men out. The overall effort was great tonight.”




Pau Gasol:

On turning the corner:
“We’ve found something that works, that’s for sure, and something we can feel good about. I think the way we are playing we can be very successful. We have to sustain this effort, this mindset, and the way we’re moving the ball we are finding the open guy. We are doing really well; we just have to keep it up.”

On if Kobe’s new mindset is keying the success:
“I think it’s one of the main things, if not the main thing. When he distributes the ball like that, guys are ready to catch it. He sets everybody up and sets up such a good energy on offense and it carries over to the defensive end. It’s worked great.”




Scott Brooks:

On tonight’s performance:
“The end of the game execution by our team, I thought could have been better, definitely could have been better, something that we’re pretty good at. They were good, they’re a physical team. They were moving us around a little bit towards the end but I don’t think that was the game. They did a good job. Kobe (Bryant) picked us apart, 14 assists back to back games. I don’t know if he’s ever had that before, but that tells you how great he is, he can do so many different parts of the game, most guys can’t do it all and he’s one of the few guys in this league that can do it all. He can have big rebounding games, he can have big passing games, and obviously he can have 81 point games.”

“They just beat us. I don’t know if they’re different, they just beat us. We didn’t shoot the ball the way we want to shoot it. We did a lot of good things but they just beat us. We’re not going to go into every game and win, nobody can but they played better than us and they deserved to win.”

On Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant:
“Well, he didn’t shoot the ball well, nor did KD (Kevin Durant) and they’re going to make those shots. He had, I don’t know, 13 assists and a bunch of rebounds. I think he had 9 rebounds. He can do many things for us. He doesn’t have to shoot, do we want him to shoot better? Absolutely. KD (Kevin Durant) isn’t going to have many 10 for 26 nights either. He was getting good looks, the ball sometimes doesn’t go in. Defensively, they shot too high of a percentage. We got to do a better job of doing that, that’s what we pride ourselves on game in, game out. 55 percent, considering the other 40 something games, teams average 43 percent on us. So, they shot the ball well. They got some good shooters, they were spreading the floor but they’re a good team. They’re a good team, and they’re healthy. They’re going to be good the rest of the year if they can stay healthy, just like every team in this league.”




Kevin Durant:

On the game:
“They hit some tough shots. Our first thing is to protect the paint and then peel out after that. They were hitting some tough shots, Pau Gasol hitting some tough twos, [Metta World Peace] hitting some threes, so you know they hit some tough shots we just have to do a better job of having our hand up and contesting shots, but Kobe [Bryant] is really good at facilitating and guys were cutting behind us we just got to do a better job, I think we were making a good first effort we have to have a better second effort.”

On if it felt like the Lakers were playing with desperation:
“You could tell the whole arena felt [desperate]. They needed a win, it was a must win for them and they came out and performed well they were hitting shots and they were doing a good job of protecting the paint and we missed some good shots as well so we just got to go back to the drawing board and keep working.”

On what this win might mean for the Lakers:
“Who knows and who really cares about them, it’s all about us. We’re focusing on us. They got a good win I’m sure they’re going to have some momentum off of this win but we can’t even worry about that we just got to focus on us and how we can get better.”

On the team fading in the 4th quarter:
“They hit some tough shots man. [World Peace] hit a step back three. Jodie Meeks hit a few shots. Kobe was doing a good job of drawing and kicking and we let guys get behind us for layups so we just have to do a better job of communicating and helping each other out. We have so many good defenders when somebody makes a mistake, which is going to happen, we have to do a better job of helping out.”




Russell Westbrook:

On what the team needs to do to prepare for Memphis:
“Just get ready. Get ready to go. They beat us last time on our home floor, so we got to be ready to play.”

On his 13 assists:
“They were collapsing and guys did a good job of making shots. I just tried to give them the ball where they could score. A lot of attention went to [Kevin Durant] so two guys jumped out and I got to find the open guy.”

On the team’s defense:
“I think we were in good shape, they just made some tough shots and got to the line a lot.”




Thabo Sefolosha:

On whether it felt like they were playing a new Lakers team than they played the last game:
“Yeah it did. They were missing a few guys when we played them last…I think they played well tonight and that’s all.”

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THUNDER-LAKERS PREVIEW

By JEFF BARTL

Posted Jan 26 2013 3:14PM

No matter if the Los Angeles Lakers believe they're a better team after airing their personal grievances, they have a long way to go in order to catch the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Los Angeles looks to avoid a 10th loss in 12 meetings versus Oklahoma City as the league-best Thunder try to complete a winning six-game road trip Saturday.

The Lakers (18-25) held a players-only meeting prior to Wednesday's 106-93 loss at Memphis that apparently included heated outbursts from Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

They put their differences aside, though, and ended a four-game losing streak with a 102-84 home victory over Utah on Friday.

"After the Memphis game, we put the past behind us," Howard said. "We've got to sustain it for the rest of the season. We have to play together and play for each other."

Bryant, who reportedly admitted during the meeting he can be difficult to play with, seemed to take the team-first concept to heart. He attempted a season low-tying 10 shots, matched his season low with 14 points, dished out 14 assists - his most since notching 14 in a loss to Phoenix on Nov. 14, 2010 - and finished one rebound short of a triple-double.

"We're bonding together and we're communicating with each other very well," said Bryant, averaging 35.8 points versus the Thunder in the last five meetings, including the postseason. "You can't just sweep things under the rug all the time.

"It's not about showing we've turned the corner. It's about doing it."

Howard complemented Bryant's effort with 17 points and 13 rebounds after totaling 15 points and 13 boards over his previous three games while battling a nagging shoulder injury.

"Those are our two big guns," said Steve Nash, who scored 15 points, "and when they are symbiotic like that we are a special team."

Oklahoma City has looked like one all season, including victories in both meetings with the Lakers.

Kevin Durant scored 36 points and Russell Westbrook added 33 to help overcome 35 from Bryant in a 114-108 win Dec. 7. Durant scored 42 and Westbrook had 27 with 10 assists as Howard and Pau Gasol sat out with injuries in Oklahoma City's 116-101 road victory Jan. 11.

The Thunder (34-10) have won nine of the last 11 meetings with the Lakers, including a five-game victory in last season's Western Conference semifinals.

Oklahoma City enters this matchup having won eight of 10, including Friday's 105-95 victory at Sacramento to improve to 3-2 on their trip.

Durant is averaging 35.6 points on the trek, including a career-high 52 in an overtime win over Dallas in the opener. He was limited to 24 on Friday but attempted only 12 shots, making seven, and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Westbrook also scored well below his season average with 18 points, but he was the catalyst for the offense with a season-high 14 assists while also contributing on the defensive end.

"He's one of the best in the league," said Brooks, whose team averages a league-best 105.9 points and is among the leaders in points off turnovers (18.6 per game).

"We're an aggressive team. We play with force on the offensive end, but it always starts with our defense. When he defends, everybody defends and we're a good team on the offensive end."

Westbrook is averaging 27.5 points in the last four regular-season games versus the Lakers, while Durant is averaging 33.0 in the last six.

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  
  #6 ClarkPF #9 Ibaka  
  #12 Howard C #5 Perkins  
  #24 Bryant SG #2 Sefolosha  
  #10 Nash PG #0 Westbrook  


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Lakers Steve Blake
(abdominal surgery) is out.
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
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12/07 - LAL 108 @ OKC 114
01/11 - OKC 116 @ LAL 101
01/27 - OKC @ LAL
03/05 - LAL @ OKC
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