Lakers Gameday | 12/22/09 | Thunder
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Lakers hold off Thunder for 5th straight win
By GREG BEACHAM
Posted Dec 23 2009 1:27AM
LOS ANGELES(AP) Kobe Bryant scored 40 points for the sixth time this season, and the NBA-leading Los Angeles Lakers shook off a rough first half before hanging on for their 16th victory in 17 games, 111-108 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.
Pau Gasol had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the road-weary Lakers, who needed two last-minute free throws apiece from Bryant and Derek Fisher to win their first game back from a five-game road trip.
After trailing by 12 in the first half, Los Angeles blew most of an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. Baskets by Russell Westbrook and James Harden twice cut the Lakers' lead to one in the final 25 seconds, but Bryant and Fisher sealed Los Angeles' 12th straight win over Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant scored 30 points before fouling out with 1:31 to play, and former UCLA star Westbrook had 21 points and 13 assists for the Thunder, who dropped back below .500 with their fifth loss in six games. Despite a strong start and finish at Staples Center, the Thunder haven't beaten the Lakers since they were the Seattle SuperSonics.
Thabo Sefolosha scored 16 points for the Thunder, but just three after halftime - and the guard missed an open 3-point attempt to tie it in the final two minutes.
Fisher's season high-tying 15 points included two free throws with 14.9 seconds left, followed by a missed 3-point attempt by Westbrook.
Playing at home for the first time since breaking his right index finger in a game against Minnesota, Bryant had another injury scare when he landed awkwardly on his left knee while putting up a backward layup with 5:08 to play. Bryant stayed down on the court for several moments, but shot his own free throws after a timeout - only to take an elbow to the jaw from Westbrook with 3:55 left.
Bryant persevered, drawing Durant's sixth foul before hitting two free throws with 19.5 seconds left in the 102nd 40-point game of his career.
The Lakers returned home after winning the last four games of their first big road trip in a season that began with 17 of their first 21 games at Staples Center. Los Angeles has five more home games in the next two weeks, including a Christmas meeting with Cleveland and a New Year's Day visit from Sacramento.
The Lakers very much resembled a team returning from a long trip in the first half, falling behind by double digits early in the second quarter with poor shooting and indifferent play by Ron Artest, who missed a rebound layup attempt when he inexplicably shot it flat-footed.
Durant and Westbrook led the Thunder to a 61-54 halftime lead. Bryant scored 18 points in the first half, but his fellow starters managed just eight field goals - including none for Andrew Bynum, who went 0 for 5.
Los Angeles made a 13-4 run to open the third quarter, taking the lead on Fisher's 3-pointer.
NOTES: The Lakers have won seven straight home games against Oklahoma City, and 11 straight home games overall. ... Westbrook got a technical foul in the third quarter for throwing the ball at the basket standard in frustration. ... Courtside fans included actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, designer Diane Von Furstenburg and husband Barry Diller, and figure skater Michelle Kwan.
Copyright 2009 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
Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson on tonight’s game:
“We had a good third quarter, it was the only quarter we won. But we played the kind of way we anticipated we should play, defensive and offensively.”
On fatigue being a factor against the Lakers tonight:
“Oklahoma was in L.A. longer than we were… Just getting ourselves back in the flow of things and playing well, you know, took some time. Fortunately for us, we have a second half.”
On Artest guarding Durant tonight:
“Ron’s had such a great job on Durant at the first two games. They ran some different things, he got away from him, [Ron] got into foul trouble and [Durant] was a problem for us.”
On Kobe’s knee:
“We’re fortunate that he didn’t do anything disastrous.”
On Andrew Bynum’s performance tonight:
“He came back in the second half and had some things accomplished, got a couple of blocks, a few blocks actually. He and Pau both had some blocked shots.”
On Lamar Odom’s performance tonight:
“He was aggressive and I liked that. He took a couple of shots that didn’t go in… But I like to see an aggressive Lamar play basketball.”
Lakers' Kobe Bryant on the defensive match-up between him and Kevin Durant:
"I was just trying to make it more comfortable and I think Ron did an excellent job, I was just trying to do as much as I could."
On Oklahoma City's potential:
"They have a lot of talent and a lot of potential so hopefully they can keep their group together for years to come."
On getting confidence when the team is down because of winning a championship:
"We know, we trust our defense and we understand what we are capable of doing. I mean it was really just a matter of finding that rhythm."
Lakers' Ron Artest on Pau Gasol' s performance tonight:
"He got down low. They had to continue to try and block his shot. He missed a couple lay ups though. They kept trying to block him and jump up on Pau. But Pau was blocking shots and passing the ball well. He played good."
Lakers' Lamar Odom on the Lakers' performance ill the third quarter:
"Yea we wanted to get that momentum. You know, get the crowd involved a little bit more ... Everybody kind of got it going. Defensively we did a good job when we had to."
On Kobe's condition:
"Yea he's alright. Well I don't know because ifbe breaks it or pulls it or whatever, he's just going to play anyway. So ifhe has the flu [or a] cold, it doesn't matter. He's already playing with a broken finger. Of course we don't want him to get hurt. He's such a trooper."
Lakers' Derek Fisher on playing Christmas Day:
"1 think there is more pressure out there to showcase for the fans. The match-ups, I don't think the individual teams, think of it as this big preview of what is to come. The fact they are quality teams with personalities that the fans enjoy seeing. There is a big focus on basketball that day and I think that is really what it is all about."
Thunder’s Coach Scott Brooks on Russell Westbrook:
“I thought he had a good look at the three to tie the game. I thought he played good basketball throughout the game. He really got a lot of guys involved. Thirteen assists and I thought he was terrific tonight. It was good energy and played a good basketball game.”
On team striving to make the jump to win games like this despite their youth:
“Well, I think that’s the next step. The Lakers are elite, championship ready team right now. They’re the best team in basketball. For us to beat a team like this on their home floor, we just have to keep fighting – keeping fighting and keep believing in what we’re doing and keep working. That’s the only way you get respect in this league, is to challenge your opponent. I think we did that tonight. The Lakers have so many good players and a lot of weapons. We just kept going and we didn’t give up. Some teams will do that and I don’t think our team is built like that.”
On what his team can learn from a game like this:
“Kobe needed every, all of his 40 points tonight to beat us. We have a lot of respect – I have a lot of respect – for him, how he plays. He brings it; he brings it every night. Our guys have an opportunity to watch how he performs. The consistency level is remarkable.”
On his team’s effort:
“Going in to the game, all I tell our guys every game is just ‘continue to play hard and continue play for each other.’ And we did that tonight. If you do that, we can walk out of the gym with our heads held high feeling pretty proud of what we have accomplished. We’re not happy with losing by three. There’s no moral victories here. It’s the progress that we’re making, the growth that we’re seeing, every night in our guys. We’ve had a tough bunch of games here but the guys are not using it as an excuse. They’re not using their age as an excuse. We’re just going to continue to fight.”
Thunder’s Kevin Durant on the Thunder tonight:
“We’re getting better. I’m so proud of our guys. I know we don’t like to take moral victory but tonight they showed a lot of toughness, a lot of maturity. It was a tough loss. We were right there at the end, could have won the game. We just have to focus and get better for tomorrow.”
On fouling out:
“First time I ever did that, fouled out of the game. It happens man. Wish I could take back some plays but that’s part of the game. I thought I was playing hard and getting fouls called is going to happen. It was a tough one but I’m really proud of our guys.”
Thunder’s Russell Westbrook’s feelings on his last shot attempt to tie the game:
“Good. Real good. I can’t even lie to you. I did everything right, played hard. Thought it was good, in and out. Can’t be mad though. We fought and did a good job”
On the Thunder tonight:
“Honestly, I think we’ve made that next step. Lakers are a great, championship team. We did a good job competing. We did a good job extending the game.”
Thunder’s James Harden on the game tonight:
“I think we shot the ball pretty well tonight, especially including Russell in the first half tonight. He had eight assists at halftime so we got some great shots. I think we did pretty well on the defensive end and overall it was a good game.”
On the game-plan tonight:
“Just go out there and play hard. They’re a great team. They’re very long, physical. They’re the best team in the NBA. We had to go out there and just play hard and be aggressive on the offensive end and the defensive end.”
Lakers vs. Thunder Game Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
Posted Dec 21 2009 4:30PM
Kobe Bryant feels the NBA-leading Los Angeles Lakers can improve, while Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma CIty Thunder are trying to climb back above .500.
Bryant looks to help the red-hot Lakers continue their dominance of Durant and the struggling Thunder on Tuesday night.
The Lakers (22-4) have picked up where they left off, holding the best record in the NBA after winning a 15th league title last season.
They've won 15 of 16 after winning 93-81 at Detroit on Sunday, concluding a five-game road trip with four consecutive victories.
"It's a great sign," said Bryant, who scored 28 points, of the trip. "We believe we can be better and we will be better because we push each other."
Bryant, whose 28.8 points per game rank second behind Denver's Carmelo Anthony (30.5), has been superb during the last four games, averaging 34.5 points on 51.0 percent shooting. That surge has come after he endured his worst shooting performance of the season, making 7 of 24 shots - 1 for 9 from beyond the arc - in a 102-94 loss at Utah on Dec. 12.
Bryant, last season's NBA Finals MVP, has also thrived against Oklahoma City (13-13), averaging 33.5 points on 51.6 percent shooting to help the Lakers win the last 11 meetings since a loss April 6, 2007, when the Thunder were the Seattle SuperSonics.
Los Angeles has won both matchups this season, including a 101-85 victory behind Bryant's 22 points at Staples Center on Nov. 22. The Lakers have won six straight in the series at home, and are riding a 10-game winning streak overall at Staples Center, where they are 15-2 this season.
The Thunder have dropped four of five following Saturday's 95-90 loss at Houston. Durant made 6 of 18 shots and finished with 13 points, while Oklahoma City converted 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
"We're gonna get better," said coach Scott Brooks. "We're improving. We've got a lot of basketball left and a lot of games to get better with."
Durant, fourth in the NBA at 27.2 points per game, has been inconsistent of late. The forward had 27 points in a 109-98 win over the Pistons on Friday, two nights after tying his season low with 12 points on 4 for 18 shooting in a 100-86 loss to Dallas.
He's averaging 23.7 points in nine games against the Lakers, whom he has never beaten.
Oklahoma City has won all 11 games when scoring more than 100 points and is 2-11 when allowing 100.
The Lakers average 103.3 points, and have topped the century mark in the last 18 meetings with Oklahoma City, winning 15.
Copyright 2009 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
Kobe Bryant (avulsion fracture, right index finger) is probable.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is out.
Kyle Weaver (shoulder surgery) is out.
Kevin Ollie (right knee surgery) is out.
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead their current season series with Oklahoma City 2-0 after sweeping last season’s series with the Thunder (3-0) for the second straight year, having gone 4-0 against the Thunder in 2007-08. The Lakers have won each of the last four season series with the Thunder and have now won 11 straight overall against Oklahoma City. The two teams have met 216 times but just four times since the Thunder relocated to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008- 09 season. Los Angeles leads the all-time series 133-83. The Lakers are 12-1 in their last 13 games against Oklahoma City and are winners of 11 straight against the Thunder. At home, the Lakers have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Thunder and are 13-7 all-time against Oklahoma City at STAPLES Center. On the road against the Thunder, the Lakers have gone 8-2 in their last 10 overall and are 8-1 in their last nine games as the visitor. The Lakers have now played five times during the regular season at Ford Center in Oklahoma City, going 0-2 against the New Orleans Hornets while the team was temporarily relocated from 2005-07 but 3-0 against the Thunder. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 25-11 against the Thunder. In 2006-07, Kobe Bryant established a Lakers series record with 46 points 4/6/07 at KeyArena only to surpass it nine days later with 50 points 4/15/07 at home against the Thunder. In those games, he surpassed the old mark of 45 points established by himself in January of 2003 and Jerry West in December of 1970. In 48 career games including 41 starts, Bryant is averaging 25.1 points against the Thunder.
BRYANT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR 26th TIME , PASSES JORDAN FOR MOST POW AWARDS ALL-TIME
After three Western Conference Player of the Week awards in each of the past two seasons, Kobe Bryant earned his SECOND WC Player of the week award this season for games played Monday, December 14 through Sunday, December 20. The award is the 26th of Bryant’s career (24 Western Conference POW, 2 NBA POW), tying Michael Jordan (23 NBA POW, 2 Eastern Conference POW) for the most Player of the Week Awards all-time while further surpassing Magic Johnson’s 18 NBA POW awards as the franchise’s all-time leader. Jordan and Johnson, however, earned the majority/all of their Player of the Week nods before the award was separated by Conference prior to the 2001-02 season. Since the Player of the Week was separated by Conference, Bryant’s 24 awards rank first among all players, three ahead of LeBron James (21).
Bryant led the Lakers to a 4-0 week, which included wins over the Bulls, Bucks, Nets and Pistons, averaging 34.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.50 steals. During the week, Bryant recorded his 5th 40-point game of the season with 42 points 12/15 at Chicago, scored 39 points including a game-winning buzzer beater in overtime 12/16 at Milwaukee, posted a double-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists 12/19 at New Jersey and totaled 28 points, four assists and five steals 12/20 at Detroit; all while playing with an avulsion fracture to his right index finger.
This is the 24th time Bryant has earned Player of the Week honors (11/4/01, 1/20/02, 11/3/02, 12/8/02, 1/12/03, 2/2/03, 2/23/03, 2/17/04, 3/22/04, 11/13/05, 12/18/05, 12/25/05, 1/22/06, 4/16/06, 3/18/07, 3/25/07, 1/13/08, 3/2/08, 4/6/08, 12/28/08, 1/11/09, 3/15/09, 11/22/09, 12/20/09) since the award was separated by Conference. He has twice earned NBA Player of the Week honors (4/16/00, 12/24/00), giving him 26 total career POW awards. The NBA began the Player of the Week award in 1979-80.
GASOL CRASHING THE BOARDS
With seven double-doubles and 115 rebounds over his last seven games, Pau Gasol is currently enjoying the best rebounding stretch of his career. Entering the season with a career-high 19 rebounds 4/9/09 vs. Denver, Gasol has bettered his career-high three times during this run (20 reb. 12/11 vs. Minnesota, 20 reb. 12/12 at Utah, 22 reb. 12/16 at Milwaukee). With 26 points and a career-high 22 rebounds 12/16 at Milwaukee, Gasol became the first Laker to record a 20pt/20reb game since Lamar Odom posted 23 points and 21 rebounds 3/24/08 at Golden State. Prior to that, the most recent Lakers player to record a 20/20 game was Shaquille O’Neal in 2004.
Additionally, with 20 rebounds 12/12/09 at Utah and 20 rebounds 12/11/09 vs. Minnesota, Gasol became the first Laker to record 20 rebounds in consecutive games since Lamar Odom posted 22 rebounds 3/23/08 vs. Golden State and 21 rebounds 3/24/08 at Golden State. The only other Laker to record back-to-back 20-plus rebounds in the past 30 years is Vlade Divac, who did so 2/24/95 vs. Charlotte (24 rebounds) and 2/25/95 vs. Los Angeles Clippers (20 rebounds). Prior to that, the most recent Lakers player to post consecutive 20 rebound games was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20 rebounds 1/24/78 vs. Philadelphia, 21 rebounds 1/27/78 vs. Milwaukee).
Kobe Bryant scored 42 points 12/15/09 at Chicago, marking the 101st time in his career that he has scored 40+ points in a game and the 5th time this season, surpassing his total for all of last season (4). Bryant’s 46 points February 1, 2008 at Toronto moved him past Elgin Baylor (88 40+ games) for 3rd all-time and into 1st in Lakers franchise history. In the history of the NBA, only two players have more career 40-point games: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers are now 70- 31 all-time in games that Bryant scores 40+ points and are 5-0 in such games this season. Bryant holds the Lakers franchise record for 40-point games in a single season, recording 27 during the 2005-06 campaign. Bryant also holds the franchise record for most consecutive 40-point games (9), established during the 2002-03 season, which is tied for the fourth longest such streak in NBA history (Michael Jordan) behind Wilt Chamberlain, who twice posted streaks of 14 and once had a 10-game streak.
LAKERS RECENT 11-GAME WIN STREAK TIES FOR 9TH LONGEST IN TEAM HISTORY
The Lakers saw their recent 11-game win streak come to and end in a 102-94 loss in Utah on 12/12. With their victory over the Timberwolves December 11th, the Lakers won for the 11th straight time, further surpassing their longest win streak from a season ago when the Lakers strung together 7-straight victories on three occasions, most recently from 1/30/09 – 2/10/09. The Lakers victory over the Jazz December 9th marked the 24th time in franchise history that the team has put together a 10+ game win streak (20 in Los Angeles, 4 in Minneapolis). The Lakers last 11-game win streak came during the 2003-04 season from March 13 – April 2, 2004. The Lakers have not won 12 straight games since a streak of 19 consecutive victories from February 4 – March 13, 2000, part of a 19-game streak that ranks as the 2nd longest in team history.
ARTEST REACHES 10,000 CAREER POINTS AND 2,000 CAREER ASSISTS
With 16 points and one assist December 12 at Utah, Ron Artest scored his 10,000th career point and dished his 2,000th career assist. Furthermore, the Lakers now have four players with over 10,000 career points (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest). The only other teams in the league with four or more players with 10,000 career points are San Antonio with five players (Tim Duncan, Michael Finley, Antonio McDyess, Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson), Dallas with four players (Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry) and Boston with four players (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace).