After the Lakers had their winning streak snapped yesterday by the Los Angeles Clippers they were looking for a little revenge. However, that wasn’t going to come easy as they were face to face with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers were looking to start another winning streak tonight against the Thunder, especially with one of their toughest weeks of the season coming up.
The first quarter started with plenty of energy and excitement. The Lakers looked poised and ready to rebound from yesterday’s tough defeat. The offense flowed smoothly and the Lakers were able to use their size to get into the paint and punish the undersized Thunder. The Lakers built their lead to 23-17 before the Thunder began to utilize their speed to neutralize the Lakers’ size.
Led by budding superstar Kevin Durant, the Thunder used an efficient transition offense to give the Lakers trouble on the defensive end. Before the end of the quarter the Thunder turned a Steve Blake turnover into another fast-break that gave Oklahoma City their first lead of the night. The Lakers answered before the quarter ended and the teams finished the first twelve minutes tied at 28.
The second quarter started with the Thunder taking control of the early minutes. The Lakers went cold from the field and the Thunder took advantage of poor Lakers defense. Three straight dunks gave the Thunder a six point lead, which was a twelve point swing from the first quarter where Oklahoma City was down six. More turnovers from Los Angeles gave the Thunder extra chances, which was the last thing coach Phil Jackson wanted to do.
The second half of the quarter was controlled primarily by Kobe Bryant on offense. Bryant looked young and spry, and his results showed it. After a drive and dish to Gasol for a dunk, Bryant drove the lane again and this time got an easy dunk. One more Bryant lay-up and the Lakers had the lead once again. By the time the half ended the Lakers lead the Thunder 58-55.
The third quarter opened with the Thunder regaining control. The Lakers turned the ball over on their first two possessions and Oklahoma City capitalized. The Thunder quickly regained the lead before the Lakers were finally able to connect on offense. Los Angeles hit two threes, one apiece from Derek Fisher and Ron Artest, to push their lead back to seven. A shot-clock beating bucket from Bryant put the Lakers up ten and capped off an 11-0 run for Los Angeles to regain control.
The Lakers played physical defense and gave the Thunder fits. Oklahoma City went cold from the floor and the Lakers responded, pushing their lead to 15. Oklahoma City refused to go away, however, and they answered with a 8-0 run to get right back into the game. By the time the quarter ended the Lakers lead the Thunder 81-75.
The final quarter began with the Thunder immediately cutting the Lakers lead down to 4. After that the game went back and forth with teams trading buckets on both ends of the court. Lakers’ center Andrew Bynum picked up his fifth foul and had to go to the bench. Both offenses found rhythm and seemed on fire. With eight minutes left in the game the Lakers had a seven point lead, 90-83.
The Lakers continued to hold onto their lead but the Thunder kept the game close. After L.A. pushed the lead to nine the Thunder immediately cut it back to six with a three-pointer from James Harden. However, the Lakers pushed their defensive intensity up once again, and once again were up by ten. Much like the entire game, though, the Thunder came back. Another 6-0 run from the Thunder cut the Lakers lead in half again.
The final minute of the game was frantic, and both teams made multiple buckets. After Bryant was fouled he proceeded to miss two free throws. Oklahoma City returned the favor, however, as Russell Westbrook missed two immediately following Bryant’s misses. After Westbrook missed a three pointer, Bryant go the board and drew a foul. This time he sunk both free throws, and put the Thunder away.
The Lakers finished off the Thunder and won the game, 101-94. Lakers had five players in double figures, led by Gasol and Bryant.