GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Oklahoma City Thunder 18 26 34 24 102
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 30 19 19 25 93


Thunder beat Lakers 102-93 for 5th straight win

By BETH HARRIS


Posted Mar 29 2012 10:39PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Russell Westbrook scored 36 points, Kevin Durant added 21 and the West-leading Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 102-93 Thursday night for their fifth consecutive victory in the matchup of division leaders.

The Thunder shot 46 percent, ending their streak of hitting 50 percent or better in their four previous games.

Andrew Bynum had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Kobe Bryant added 23 points for the Lakers, who have lost their last two at home and are 0-2 against the Thunder this season, including a 15-point road loss last month.

Oklahoma City pulled away to open the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run that stretched its lead to 88-70 while Westbrook kept Bryant tied up offensively. Westbrook and Durant scored four points each in the spurt that had Laker fans booing.

The Lakers responded with a 14-4 run to close to 96-89, with Metta World Peace hitting two 3-pointers and Bryant not scoring. Westbrook and Durant missed shots, but the NBA's highest scoring duo regrouped in time to score their team's final 10 points.

Westbrook scored 17 points in the third, when the Thunder dominated, 34-19, in taking a 78-68 lead into the final 12 minutes. Durant was limited to a lone 3-pointer while Westbrook scored at will, alternately slashing to the basket or hitting from the perimeter. His 3-pointer beat the buzzer to end the quarter. Kendrick Perkins had 10 of his 12 points in the third.

The Thunder were limited to 36 percent shooting in the first half, when they trailed 49-44. The Lakers got off to a strong start, leading 30-18 after one quarter behind nine points by Bryant and eight from Bynum. Oklahoma City outscored the Lakers 26-19 in the second quarter and took off from there.

NOTES: The Thunder twice hit buzzer-beating baskets. Serge Ibaka had one to end the first half before Westbrook's 3 ended the third. ... The Thunder closed March with an 11-5 record. ... Former Laker Derek Fisher was welcomed back with two standing ovations in his first visit to Staples Center since being traded away recently. He had seven points in 16 minutes off the bench for the Thunder. ... Lakers coach Mike Brown said someone opened a Twitter account in his name that has since been shut down. "It's a sign that I've made it," he said. "But I will never have a Twitter account. I promise."


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

Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday, March 29th at Staples Center at 7:30PM. Catch all the action on TNT and 710ESPN.







View More Photos


Points Bynum 25, 10-15
Rebounds Bynum 13, 7 OFF 6 DEF
Assists Sessions 5
Steals 3 tied with 1
Blocks Bynum 4


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

Lakers coach Mike Brown on his overall impression of the night:
“I thought we came out tonight with great energy in the first half, moved the ball and moved bodies. Defensively we got back in transition and limited them to one shot. As the game went on, the reality is, we got beat in three areas.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on the three areas the Lakers struggled:
“We talked about playing the pick and roll in a certain way and we didn’t always play it that way so our game plan discipline as a group wasn’t always there. I thought the second area was in transition. You’ve got to give a guy like Russell Westbrook credit. In the third quarter, he just came out, put his head down and went one on four and either got scored or got fouled every time he came down the floor in that third quarter. The last area is the long rebounds or 50/50 balls. [Thunder] shot 46% from the field and they came up with 19 rebounds.”

Lakers coach Mike Brown on the third quarter:
“To have a 19 point quarter, you’re going to have that sometimes, but to give up 34 points in the third quarter the way we gave them up…Oklahoma City didn’t do anything tricky. All they did was come at us in transition and play pick and roll. Those two things were it.”




Andrew Bynum:

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on the difference between the team’s performance in the first and second half:
“They were able to turn it up and we were not. And we lost…[They were] aggressive. They just turned it up and we didn’t match it.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on the Thunder’s performance in the second half:
“Everybody on their team played decent amounts offensively to get it done. They turned it up, and they beat us in transitions and loose balls.”

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on what the team needs to do to improve:
“We can definitely win. We just have to play better defensively and we have to get to loose balls. They got at least 10 or 15 points on the first shot being missed, the ball rolling on the ground and getting it and putting it back in. So, we’ve got to eliminate some of those.”




Pau Gasol:

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on seeing Derek Fisher:
“I told him it was great to see him. As a teammate, as a friend, as a person who we shared so many battles with, I told him it’s weird not to have him around. But obviously, wish him the best.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on the team’s performance in the second half:
“We just gave away the momentum of our game. The way we were playing early on, we gave it away at the end of the second quarter and the start of the second half. And they took it, they took it and they built on it and then they were hard to stop. It just happened that way for us and we just have to be solid for 48 minutes against a team with the personnel that they have.”




Ramon Sessions:

Lakers’ Ramon Sessions on the Thunder’s performance in the second half:
“They just got up a little more, they got a couple more loose balls offensively, and they kind of sucked our defense away from us. They came out, they played hard, they played a good game.”

Lakers’ Ramon Sessions on his comfort level with the team:
“Still getting there. It’s not one of those things that is 100% yet, but that’s no excuse at all. Just have to get back, practice tomorrow and we’ve got another one coming up.”

Lakers’ Ramon Sessions on how he can continue to improve:
“Just playing off the ball a little bit more than usual. A few less pick and rolls. Just one of those things where you have to continue to get familiar with the guys—it’s only been like six or seven games for me. So, just getting a little more comfortable each night and learning to play off the ball a little bit more.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on their loss tonight:
“Tonight, the offensive rebounds killed us, the transition killed us, those 50-50 balls killed us. That’s what cost us the game.”




Kobe Bryant:

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on their loss tonight:
“Tonight, the offensive rebounds killed us, the transition killed us, those 50-50 balls killed us. That’s what cost us the game.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on whether the team’s size affects their agility:
“They have height too though. They have height and they have size. But there’s a lot of opportunities that we had around the rim that are normally easy for us and they were a lot tougher. They were a lot tougher for Andrew [Bynum], Pau [Gasol], Metta [World Peace], and myself being in the paint, things like that.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on the difference between the last game and tonight’s game:
“Against the team that we played yesterday night, we did a pretty good job at half court. It’s just the transition baskets and giving them opportunities that hurt us.”

Lakers’ Kobe Bryant on the balance of playing off ball with Ramon Sessions:
“I’m off the ball. I’m rarely, rarely on the ball. If I get a rebound most of the time I’m looking for him. I give it to him and run away.”




Scott Brooks:

Thunder coach Scott Brooks on recovering from a tough first quarter:
“I thought we did a much better job as the game was going on. In the first quarter we were hoping they would miss and you can’t play hope basketball. You have to make them miss, and I thought in the remaining three quarters we did.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks on the Thunder’s offense:
“Russell had a great game going. He was making plays for us. When we’re good, everybody touches the ball, everybody gets involved, and we did that tonight.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks on keeping Kobe Bryant to a low shooting percentage:
“That’s not easy to do. Thabo did a good job forcing him away from his spots and making him take tough shots. The thing about Kobe is that he makes tough shots, and he didn’t make them like he usually does. We wanted him to take tough shots, and thankfully he missed some shots that he normally makes.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks on having Derek Fisher:
“It’s going to help the entire team. With Derek, he’s a winner, he understands how to play, he knows how to play, and he wants to help us. The thing I like about him is that he can still play. We don’t need another coach. We have a good staff already, but he has to be able to play. I think the players will see how he takes care of his body, takes care of his mental mindset every night, he’s a pros-pro, and he’s a special player. He still has some game left and he’s going to help us in this part of the season.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks on having Derek Fisher in the postseason:
“He’s been through every situation. He’s been down 0-2, he’s been up 0-2. He’s had one of the best careers a point guard can have with over 200 playoff games, five championships, and how he carries himself. He’s a champion on and off the floor. He’s going to help us on the floor no question. We like his experience, his knowledge, and his dedication of the game. He has a big respect for team basketball. You can never get enough of those guys in your locker room.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks on guarding Russell Westbrook when he’s hot:
“It’s tough. I’m glad I played my career when I played because I couldn’t stop players like Russell. The guy is an amazing player, he’s aggressive, he’s strong, but his work ethic is what makes him good. He brings effort every game and every practice. He’s all about the team. He had a hot hand, and when he doesn’t he finds other guys. Russell is a terrific player.”




Russell Westbrook:

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook on the win tonight:
“I was very pleased. I think we did a great job of defending and closing out the game.”

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook on how he was able to get it going on in the second half:
“Kevin and I started a little slow and the game got kind of out of whack and my job is to pick us up wherever we need to do to win.”

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook on what this win means for the team:
“We’re just trying to focus on ourselves and what we can accomplish as a team. We’re just trying to get wins. It’s definitely a good win. But at the same time, we know we have to get better and continue to work.”




Kevin Durant:

Thunder’s Kevin Durant on how he managed to stay confident despite struggling early:
“I’m growing as a player. I started off 0-of-8 I think --- all good shots. I just stayed confident, though. My teammates encouraged me every time down and I just told myself to take good shots within the flow, and just tried to do anything to help us win.”

Thunder’s Kevin Durant on Westbrook’s performance tonight:
“He saw that we weren’t making any shots. Russ is an aggressive player --- that’s his game. He came out making shots, we all rallied behind him and we got a good win.”

Thunder’s Kevin Durant on how the team managed to pull out the win despite struggling on offense early:
“We always rely on our defense. I think tonight our defense was pretty good. We made those guys shoot tough shots. They got a lot of weapons, but I think we just stuck with our concepts. Luckily they missed a few and we did a great job of contesting.”




Derek Fisher:

Thunder’s Derek Fisher on if he gave any insight into the Lakers coming into this game:
“Nowadays with advanced scouting and technology, when teams call the play, the opposing team’s coaches know the plays as well as the players on the floor do, so I just tried to add some information about tendencies, what guys like to do in certain situations. I’m on the other team now, so it was definitely my job to help us as much as I could.”

Thunder’s Derek Fisher on his emotions coming back to Los Angeles for the first time:
“Overall, my emotions were in a very good place the entire time. I think due to the circumstances and how fast things have happened in the last couple weeks, the best way for me to show up here is to have been focused on what I could do to help my team win. I think the door was shut pretty hard in terms of how it happened. Obviously the team felt that they needed to move on; I have as well. I came in tonight pretty much with the similar mindset I have going into every road game --- focused and trying to help my team win.”

Thunder’s Derek Fisher on his feelings regarding the applause before the game:
“The fans here and the people here in this city and the community --- regardless of where I play --- will always hold a very special place in my heart, regardless of whether they applaud me or boo me because I’m on the other team. But moving here in 1996 and experiencing what I have in 13 years as a member of the team --- just great, great memories and a lot of great moments that without them wouldn’t be as special.”






Lakers-Thunder Preview

By KATE HEDLIN


The Oklahoma City Thunder are the team to beat in the Western Conference, but Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are showing they may have another run in them - provided they stay focused.

The Thunder visit the Lakers on Thursday night in Derek Fisher’s return to Staples Center.

Oklahoma City (38-12) continues to hold onto first place in the West, although San Antonio has closed the gap.

The Lakers (31-19) are also trying to make a move, having won three of four and eight of 11 to pull into third place and within seven games of the Thunder.

However, Los Angeles put up little fight when it shot 38.5 percent and lost 100-85 at Oklahoma City on Feb. 23. Kevin Durant scored 33 points to lead the Thunder, while Bryant had 24 on 7-of-24 shooting.

This meeting will feature Fisher on the other side of the rivalry. The Laker favorite was sent to Houston at the trade deadline, then was bought out before signing with the Thunder.

Fisher had played 13 of his 16 NBA seasons with Los Angeles, which decided to go in a different direction at the point guard position after acquiring Ramon Sessions from Cleveland.

“I think that I was surprised by it, but since then I’ve very much realized that it’s not so much about what went wrong and why it happened but more so where I’m going next and the next chapter of my life,” Fisher said.

The Thunder have won four straight since acquiring Fisher, although he has had minimal impact, averaging 3.8 points and 1.3 rebounds in 22.3 minutes.

While Oklahoma City will go for its fifth straight victory Thursday, Los Angeles is trying to continue its strong play.

However, the recent success has not been without drama in the last week, including a possible brewing issue between Andrew Bynum and coach Mike Brown following a 104-101 victory over Golden State on Tuesday.

Bynum sat the final 9 minutes after missing a 3-pointer in the third quarter. The 7-foot center, who has attempted eight 3s in his career, was surprised by Brown’s decision.

“I don’t know what was bench-worthy about the shot to be honest with you,” said Bynum, who had 11 points and five rebounds. “I made one (in Sunday’s game). I wanted to make another one. That’s it. He took offense to it, so he put me on the bench.”

Bynum’s benching came two days after Brown sat Bryant late in a 102-96 loss to Memphis. Bryant responded with two big shots in the final 1:04 against the Warriors.

“Why is everybody acting like we’re in eighth place?” said Bryant, who finished with 30 points. “You guys were kissing the Clippers’ (butts) at the start of the season, and now we’re in the third seed and everybody’s acting like we (stink). I don’t understand it.”

Thursday opens a four-game homestand for Los Angeles, which has dropped two of three at Staples Center but is 20-4 there.

The Thunder are 16-8 on the road and coming off a 109-95 win at Portland on Tuesday.

Russell Westbrook scored 32 points and had eight assists as Oklahoma City shot 57.0 percent. The Thunder built a 21-point lead before holding on after the Trail Blazers pulled within five in the third quarter.

“As we move through the end of the regular season and get into the playoffs, we’re going to face similar situations where we have a lead or we’re playing well, and the home team is always going to make a run, especially when you’re playing the better teams in the West,” Fisher told the Thunder’s official website. “The way we responded tonight was a great sign.”

Oklahoma City’s next five games are against playoff contenders, including Miami and Chicago - the top two teams in the East.

Probable Starters
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #35 Durant  
  #16 Gasol PF #9 Ibaka  
  #17 Bynum C #5 Perkins  
  #24 Bryant SG #2 Sefolosha  
  #7 Sessions PG #0 Westbrook  



Lakers Jordan Hill
(sprained MCL, right knee) is questionable.

Eric Maynor
(torn right ACL) is out.
Daequan Cook
(mild right MCL sprain) is out.


Game 1: 2/23 - LAL @ OKC L 85-100
Game 2: 3/29 - OKC @ LAL
Game 3: 4/22 - OKC @ LAL


GAME NOTES

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers trail the season series with Oklahoma City 0-1 after taking last season’s series from the Thunder 2-1. Including last season, the Lakers have taken six straight season series from Oklahoma City, going 3-1 against the Thunder in 2009-10, sweeping 2008-09 (3-0) and 2007-08 (4-0) and taking 2006-07 (3-1) and 2005-06 (2-1). Meeting two years ago in the First Round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers advanced past the Thunder in six games (4-2) and improved to 6-2 in postseason series against the franchise. The two teams have met 222 times in the regular season but just 11 times (8-3) since the Thunder relocated to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008-09 season. The Lakers 75-91 loss 3/26/10 at Oklahoma City snapped their 12-game win streak over the Thunder and marked their first loss to the Thunder since the team’s relocation from Seattle. The Lakers are 15-4 in their last 19 regular season games against Oklahoma City. On the road against the Thunder, the Lakers have gone 7-3 in their last 10 overall. The Lakers have now played eight times during the regular season at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, going 0-2 against the New Orleans Hornets while the team was temporarily relocated from 2005-07 and 4-2 against the Thunder. At home, the Lakers have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Thunder but had their 8-game home win streak snapped in their most recent meeting at STAPLES Center (4/10/11). The Lakers are 15-9 all-time against Oklahoma City at STAPLES Center. 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 then Sonics. In those games, he surpassed the old mark of 45 points Jerry West established in 1970 and Bryant himself matched in January of 2003. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook played collegiately at UCLA and in high school at Leuzinger (Lawndale, CA) while teammate and Los Angeles native James Harden played locally at Artesia High School. Thunder head coach Scott Brooks also played locally prior to his NBA career at UC-Irvine. Thunder guard Derek Fisher played 12+ seasons with the Lakers, winning five championships during his tenure. Prior to being traded to Houston, subsequently securing a buy-out from the Rockets, becoming an unrestricted free agent and signing with the Thunder, Fisher appeared in 43 games with the Lakers (all starts), averaging 5.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 25.6 minutes.


BYNUM ON A ROLL
With 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 25th, Andrew Bynum recorded his fifth career 30+ point game and fourth of the 2011-12 season. Excluding Kobe Bryant, only Pau Gasol has had more 30+ point games in a single season (6, 2008-09) for the Lakers since the start of the 2004-05 season than Bynum. Bynum’s other 30+ point games include: 33 points (12-of-14 FG (85.7 percent), 9-of-12 FT) against the Utah Jazz on March 18th; 37 points in a double overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on March 13th on 15-of-18 shooting from the field (83.3 percent) - marking just the fourth time in Lakers history that a player has scored at least 37 points on better than 83 percent shooting (last Laker to accomplish this was Shaquille O’Neal, who did so back on November 19, 1999 in a victory over the Bulls); and 30 points on 13-of-18 shooting March 6th in Detroit against the Pistons.


BRYANT 24 POINTS SHY OF MICHAEL JORDAN FOR 2ND ON NBA FRANCHISE CAREER POINTS LIST
During the 2009-10 season, with his 29th point on February 1, 2010 at Memphis, Kobe Bryant surpassed Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer. In the history of the NBA, only two players have scored more points with a single franchise than Bryant (29,253): Karl Malone (1st/36,374) and Michael Jordan (2nd/29,277). Last season, Bryant moved past Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) 12/19/10 at Toronto and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10/10 at Chicago into third on this list.


SESSIONS MAKES GOOD IMPRESSION IN FIRST START WITH LAKERS
In his first start as a Laker, Ramon Sessions posted 20 points (6-10 FG, 2-3 3FG), 11 assists and six rebounds in 36 minutes to help the Lakers to a 103-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on March 23. In doing so, Sessions became the first Lakers point guard to post a 20-point/10-assist game since Chucky Atkins tallied 26 points and 10 rebounds in a 105-101 victory over Golden State back on January 21, 2005. Furthermore, Sessions is the first mid-season acquisition with a 20-point/10-assist game for the Lakers since Lucius Allen had three such games after he was traded by Milwaukee to Los Angeles during the 1974-75 season.


ANDREW BYNUM NAMED WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
On March 19, the NBA announced that Andrew Bynum had earned Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, March 12 through Sunday, March 18, giving him the SECOND WC Player of the Week award of his career. Bynum led the Lakers to a 3-1 week, including back-to-back road wins against Memphis and New Orleans and a home victory against Minnesota. Averaging 27.5 points and 14.8 rebounds, while shooting 66.5% from the field, Bynum led the Western Conference in rebounding, placed second in the conference in scoring and finished fourth in the West in field-goal percentage on the week. Bynum collected point-rebound doubledoubles in all four of the Lakers games, including 37 points (15-18 FG) and 16 rebounds 3/13 @ Memphis, 25 points and 19 rebounds 3/14 @ New Orleans and 33 points (12-14 FG) and 11 rebounds 3/18 vs. Utah. Bynum’s first career WC Player of the Week award was earned back on January 26, 2009, when Bynum averaged 23.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.25 blocks in helping lead the Lakers to a 4-0 week from 1/19/09 to 1/25/09.


BYNUM ON A ROLL
With 33 points (12-of-14 FG (85.7 percent), 9-of-12 FT) against the Utah Jazz on March 18th, Andrew Bynum recorded his fourth career 30+ point game, but third in his last eight contests. Scoring 37 points in the Lakers double overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on March 13th, going 15-of-18 from the field (83.3 percent), Bynum’s night marked just the fourth time in Lakers history that a player has scored at least 37 points on better than 83 percent shooting. The last Laker to accomplish this was Shaquille O’Neal, who did so back on November 19, 1999 in a victory over the Bulls. Bynum’s first 30+ point game of the month came on March 6th in Detroit, when he scored 30 points on 13-of-18 shooting.


WIRE-TO-WIRE
With their 97-92 victory over Minnesota on March 16th, the Lakers recorded their SECOND wire-to-wire victory of the 2011-12 season. Their other wire-to-wire victory (game in which they never trailed) also came against the Timberwolves (104-85 (2/29)). Last year, the Lakers led the NBA with 10 wire-to-wire victories, all coming during the regular season. During the team’s two most recent championship runs, they recorded nine wire-to-wire victories in 2009-10 (seven during the regular season and two during the 2010 Playoffs (4/18 & 4/27 vs. Oklahoma City)) and 11 wire-to-wire victories in 2008-09 (nine during the regular season and two during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston)). The Lakers have also lost one game this season in wire-to-wire fashion, falling to the Clippers 102-94 on January 14th. Last year, the Lakers lost two such games: (98-107 1/8/10 at POR & 75-91 3/26/10 at OKC).


GETTING YOUNGER
In acquiring Ramon Sessions (25) and Christian Eyenga (22) from Cleveland for Luke Walton (32) and Jason Kapono (31) and Jordan Hill (24) from Houston for Derek Fisher (37) prior to the March 15 trade deadline, the Lakers average team age saw two years shaved off of it, going from 29 years, 149 days to 27 years, 133 days.


*Statistical research assistance provided by the Elias Sports Bureau






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