GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 28 27 34 16 105
Play by Play Oklahoma City Thunder 37 34 26 25 122




Thunder hold off Lakers' charge, 122-105

By JEFF LATZKE


Posted Mar 06 2013 1:01AM

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Russell Westbrook had 37 points and 10 rebounds, Kevin Durant scored 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off a second-half charge to beat the improving Los Angeles Lakers 122-105 on Tuesday night.

The Thunder led from start to finish, but had their 18-point lead whittled down to five midway through the fourth quarter. Serge Ibaka, who dodged a suspension after delivering a low blow against Blake Griffin in Oklahoma City's previous game, hit a 3-pointer and Westbrook had a two-handed slam as the Thunder scored the last 12 points.

Los Angeles didn't score for the last 6:14.

Kobe Bryant ended up with 30 points after leaving the game with a right elbow injury in the first quarter. Steve Nash matched his season best with 20 points as the Lakers fell back below .500 after reaching the mark for the first time since December.

Oklahoma City tied an NBA record with two turnovers. Milwaukee set the record in a game against Indiana on April 1, 2006, and Cleveland tied it in an overtime game against Portland on March 19, 2009.

The Lakers trailed by as much as 18 in the opening minutes of the second half. But Bryant and Nash hit 3-pointers during a string of eight straight points to get the deficit down to 85-79 with 3:31 to go in the third quarter.

Oklahoma City bumped the lead back up to 104-91 on Derek Fisher's 3-pointer soon after a fan hit a half-court shot to win $20,000 in the break between the third and fourth quarters. The Lakers then got as close as 110-105 after Nash's 3-pointer with 6:14 left.

Nash and Metta World Peace each missed 3s during a string of four straight empty possessions with L.A. down by six, and Ibaka then connected on a 3-pointer from the right corner to help the Thunder start pulling away.

World Peace finished with 16 points and Dwight Howard had six points and 16 rebounds before fouling out with 2:24 remaining. Los Angeles fell to 1-11 in road games against the teams that currently occupy the eight Western Conference playoff spots and is now 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Utah.

After finally pulling back to .500 during a season marred by injuries, the Lakers got another big scare. Bryant came out of the game and headed to the locker room with a right elbow injury less than 4 minutes in. Bryant air-balled his first shot from 3-point range and was grabbing at the elbow, even crossing up arms with Durant after the ball had been stolen away by Durant.

A trainer accompanied Bryant to the locker room, starting an anxious few minutes for a team that has already had All-Stars Howard, Nash and Pau Gasol miss time with injuries this season. Gasol is out another two to four weeks with a right foot injury, and reserve Jordan Hill is out for the season after surgery on his left hip.

Bryant was able to return about 4 1/2 minutes later, making his first shot a left-handed hook. He dribbled predominantly with his left hand and even snagged one rebound by cradling it in his left arm.

By the time Bryant went out, the Thunder had already delivered an opening 7-0 burst while Los Angeles missed its first 10 shots from the field. Oklahoma City also closed the first half with seven straight points to go up 71-55 after Durant's step-back jumper. It was the highest scoring first half of the season for Oklahoma City.

Notes: Durant got his 13th technical foul of the season, three shy of an automatic one-game suspension. Durant, who was on the bench at the time, drew the technical after saying something to referee Joe Crawford as Derek Fisher returned to the sideline for a timeout after getting his own technical from referee Kevin Fehr. Fisher was arguing a personal foul called against Kendrick Perkins. ... Oklahoma City has not played a home game decided by less than 10 points since Dec. 28. The Thunder's last 12 wins at Chesapeake Energy Arena have been by at least 16 points - and an average of 24.6 points. Their two losses were by 17 to Brooklyn and 10 to Miami. ... The NBA announced Tuesday that both teams will play preseason games overseas in the fall. Oklahoma City will face Fenerbahce in Istanbul and Philadelphia in Manchester, England. The Lakers will play Golden State twice, in Beijing and Shanghai.

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






View More Photos


Points Westbrook (OKC), 37
Rebounds Howard, 16
Assists 3 Players (OKC), 5
Steals Durant (OKC), 3
Blocks Durant (OKC), 3


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On what decided the game:
“Well, you know, obviously a slow start didn’t help. Turnovers - we missed foul shots and wide open shots. We started off slow and they [the Thunder] are good, that’s always a deterrent. We had the best shooter in the history of the game shooting the 3. We were down five and about two minutes to go. I will sign up for that almost everywhere. We had to battle through some injuries, battle through some foul trouble. We had to play a little bit better to beat a good team and we didn’t do it.”

On what happened to Kobe Bryant in the first quarter and how he fought through it:
“It’s like when you hit a nerve in your crazy bone, it gets hit really hard and it doesn’t just go away, it just stings. Hopefully tomorrow it will be okay. You have got to calm it down, but obviously it bothered him tonight.”

On keeping it a close game despite the Thunder’s two turnovers:
“I told these guys, they are good. They are probably the best team in the West. We need to measure up against it. We knew that two things were going to happen. We need to make the playoffs and then get Pau back and then we will see.”




Kobe Bryant:

On if the injury is re-aggravation of injury in Detroit:
“This is similar. Very, very similar. It’s just that the one in Detroit was able to go away a little bit; this one lingered with me all night.

On if anything positive can be taken out of the game:
“No, not really. You can always try to find positive things, but for us right now, we have to get some wins. They played really well, obviously. Russell [Westbrook] was shooting really well and [Reggie] Jackson gave them a really big boost with two big buckets just when it felt like we got ourselves back in the game.”

On if the Lakers have the depth to compete with Oklahoma City:
“Yeah I know we do, but we don’t have the athleticism that they do so if we allow them to play to their strengths and use their athleticism we’re going to be in trouble. Everybody can get up and down and use their speed to get to the rim. We have to be able to alter that. If we can stay in front of the ball, be solid defensively, we’ll give ourselves a much better chance.”




Steve Nash:

On what decided the game:
“I don’t think we played a great game. We had some turnovers and I feel like we did not make the second effort. Especially going against a great team like this.”

On Kobe Bryant’s performance:
“He has incredible confidence. He was struggling with his elbow and still fired off some big shots for us and made them. He was great.”




Antawn Jamison:

On Kobe Bryant’s performance:
“He is probably hurting but performance wise he is doing what he has been all season. Whether he is hurt or not, he always finds a way to push himself and his teammates as well. Tonight was nothing different than what he has been doing all season. He has been leading us on and off the court and but us in the position to turn the game around and try to get a win tonight.”




Scott Brooks:

Opening Statement:
“Who would have thought we’d only end up with two turnovers. I thought that obviously gave us an opportunity to get a shot every time down the court, which is big for us. Russell (Westbrook) had a great game going. They were giving him shots so his pull-up game was good. Perk (Perkins) did a great job defensively. Howard is not an easy player to guard but he did a good job of making him catch the ball in places that he wasn’t comfortable catching. Other than that, I thought we had a good game. I thought we fouled too many times; forty free throws for the game, twenty-seven at halftime. Other than defending without fouling, I thought our defense was pretty good.”

On only having two turnovers:
“We talked about it, we work on it. It’s just one of those things. It’s not like we’re not aware that we turn the ball over 15 times a game but I like the guys continuing to figure out ways not to turn it over and tonight’s two turnovers—I think the one was Brewer on the baseline and Russell on the travel…We’re going to talk about those two tomorrow.”

On what to attribute the lack of turnovers to:
“Well there’s no question that we want to have good spacing, we want to execute, we want to set good screens. It was just one of those games that we don’t turn the ball over. It’s only happened probably a few times in NBA history—we tied the record for the least turnovers, but it’s a great game offensively for us. We were running and we were defending. I think that the defense was the key. We held them to 40% and we do that we’re going to get opportunities on the break which we’ve been pretty efficient scoring and converting our opportunities in transition. We just fouled too many times and it slowed up the game about that but other than that I thought our offense was really good. The ball movement was really good. We score some points tonight.”

On the whole team contributing to the win tonight:
“Absolutely. You knew that they would make a little push. Kobe (Bryant) is one of the best that’s ever done it and he’s still playing at a level that’s just remarkable. Steve Nash, I’ve said it many, many, many times—he’s ageless. He’s doing it at 38, 39 years old and playing against the guys that he’s playing against. The point guard position comes at you every night. There’s so many good ones in this league. But a lot of guys stepped up. I thought Brewer’s minutes were good. Hash’s (Thabeet) were good. When... Fish (Fisher) made big shots, Reggie (Jackson) was really good finishing around the basket and he got the nice dunk. Russell, Kevin—you can just go down the list. The guys made big plays defensively. Kevin’s block late in the game was a big block for us.”




Kevin Durant:

On tonight’s game:
“The 3rd quarter wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be but we played through a lot of tough plays. We missed some easy shots and sometimes the ball didn’t go our way but we did a really good job of staying poised and playing better defense in the 4th.”

On the key to not giving up the lead in the 4th quarter:
“We just did well on the defensive end. I think our bench was really good tonight. Fish came in and made some good shots, Reggie was great on the pick and roll, Hasheem had a really great game, so our bench was really good and gave us the lift we needed when the first group struggled a little bit. It was a good win.”




Russell Westbrook:

On starting and finishing the game strong defensively:
“We did a good job of getting our hands on balls, rebounding the ball when we needed to, and getting out on break.”

On the NBA record-tying two turnovers:
“Just taking care of the ball, making good decisions, and taking good shots that the defense gave us.”

On sensing a playoff-type atmosphere in the arena:
“Definitely. Our crowd is always like that. The Lakers came in and everyone said it was a must win for them, we needed a win too. We came out with a sense of urgency.”

On the turn around after refocusing on fundamentals:
“We’re coming in with the right mindset. It’s getting around that time of year when you need to focus in and be sharp, and be confident in what you’re doing as a team.”






LAKERS-THUNDER PREVIEW

By JEFF BARTL

Posted Mar 04 2013 10:16PM

Kobe Bryant hasn't lost any of his competitive fire despite this being his 17th NBA season, which is a big reason the Los Angeles Lakers have been able to climb back to the .500 mark.

If he can will his team into the playoffs, there's a possibility Tuesday night's road matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder could be a first-round preview.

Bryant scored 34 points, including the go-ahead layup with nine seconds remaining, as the Lakers (30-30) defeated Atlanta 99-98 on Sunday to get back to the break-even mark for the first time since they were 15-15 on Dec. 28.

He scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, helping Los Angeles to its fifth victory in six tries.

"It was more of a message to my team here to kind of have that will, that hunger, to push through it by any means necessary," Bryant said. "It's just a challenge. The fun comes in the challenge, and we're up for it.

"I think we're starting to get a groove a little bit."

Bryant is averaging 34.8 points over his last five as the ninth-place Lakers try to get into the Western Conference playoff picture. They are within striking distance of Golden State, Utah and Houston for one of the last three spots.

Coach Mike D'Antoni knows Bryant will be the catalyst if Los Angeles is to avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 2004-05.

"I don't know where he's getting his young legs from," said D'Antoni, whose Lakers haven't been over .500 since winning his debut against Brooklyn on Nov. 20 to get to 6-5. "His belief in himself is huge. He's been doing it for years."

Bryant scored 21 points and had a season high-tying 14 assists in a 105-96 home win over the Thunder on Jan. 27. He's averaging 33.3 points over his last six versus Oklahoma City, including last season's five-game loss in the West semifinals.

Slowing Kevin Durant has been Los Angeles' biggest challenge, especially this season. He's averaging 37.7 points in the three meetings, including 36 in a 114-108 win Dec. 7 and 42 in a 116-101 victory Jan. 11.

Durant netted 35 points in Sunday's 108-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, helping the Thunder (43-16) hold on after leading by as many as 19 points.

That moved Oklahoma City 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers for second place in the West, though it remains three games back of San Antonio.

"We've grown up a lot as a team," Durant said. "We've been through situations like this. We just kept saying, 'Weather the storm, it'll get better.'"

Russell Westbrook, who had 17 points and 13 assists in the last meeting with the Lakers, finished with 29 points and 10 assists Sunday while also keeping his teammates calm during a rough stretch.

Coach Scott Brooks said that has become expected from his point guard.

"His leadership is getting better year by year and it should be," Brooks said. "It was a classic example of what he's done. He's an emotional guy, but he keeps everything together."

Oklahoma City is one of the NBA's best home teams at 26-4, and it has won 18 straight there versus West teams. The Lakers have lost five straight at Chesapeake Energy Arena, including last year's playoffs.

"They probably have the best crowd in the league," Bryant said. "It's incredible."

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  




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.



12/07 - LAL 108 @ OKC 114
01/11 - OKC 116 @ LAL 101
01/27 - OKC 96 @ LAL 105
03/05 - LAL @ OKC