After snapping a four-game losing streak with a win against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers hit the road for its first game of their five-game road trip, first up, facing the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder (40-30) looked to a three-game season sweep over the Lakers for their sixth consecutive home win. Even without Kevin Durant, behind the Thunder is a force to be reckoned with, Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has notched 10 triple-doubles this season and averages NBA bests of 31.6 points and 11.3 assists.
The last time that both teams met in the beginning of the month at Staples Center, the Lakers lost, 108-101. The Thunder has won three straight overall over the Lakers and are 15-4 against them.
On the other hand, the Lakers (18-50) have switched up the lineup for the 12th time this season, adding Jeremy Lin and Ryan Kelly in place of Wayne Ellington and Jordan Hill. Lin racked up a season-high 29 points in the win against the 76ers.
Head coach Byron Scott did not join the Lakers in Oklahoma City and will not join them in Minnesota, as he attends his mother’s funeral. Assistant coach Paul Pressey served as acting head coach in his place until Scott returns Friday against the Toronto Raptors.
Oklahoma City started the quarter with a three-point play by Enes Kanter to take a 3-0 lead. Lin stole the ball and assisted Wesley Johnson for a dunk. Kelly cut the deficit to one with a shot behind the arc. Dion Waiters sank a corner three of his own to extend the Thunder lead to 15-10. Kelly answered right back and went through the middle to attack the rim to cut the deficit to three. Midway through the first, both teams continued to battle it out at the basket, but Oklahoma City had a seven point advantage over the Lakers, 21-14. With many missed Laker shots and a lack of defense, the Thunder were able to extend their lead to 11 with under four minutes to play in the first. With 2:42 left, Tarik Black was able to get the rebound and a dunk off of Ellington’s missed three-point attempt, as the Lakers are still down, 31-22. A minute left to go, the Lakers trailed by 12, after a layup by Lin, 36-24. Ellington splashed in a three-pointer to cut the deficit to nine, but the Thunder managed to lead by 10 at the end of the first.
Down by 10, Ellington started off the quarter with a quick three-pointer. Mitch McGary answered back with a put back shot and a dunk and put Thunder up 11. Jordan Clarkson made a nice play with a crossover and drove through the defense for a layup, but the Lakers were still down, 43-36. Midway through the second, D.J. Augustin managed to steal the ball and set up an assist to Westbrook who finished with a dunk, as the Thunder took a 49-36 lead. The Thunder grew their lead to 15 until Robert Sacre was able to find Clarkson at the other end of the court for a layup. Clarkson found an opening in the middle to split the Thunder defense and drove through for a dunk. The Lakers continued to struggle defensively, as the Thunder continued to dominate the paint. Less than two minutes to go in the second, Kelly fired in a three, but Steve Novak answered back with a three of his own. Waiters hit a long three as the second quarter ended with the Thunder up, 68-53.
Clarkson knocked in a jump shot for the first points of the quarter and followed it with a no look pass to Kelly. With 9:42 on the clock, Kelly stole the ball and found Clarkson for a one-handed dunk as Lakers trailed 70-61. Clarkson hit a three-pointer and cut into the Thunder deficit, but Westbrook answered back with a three on the other end. Westbrook continued to attack the rim with two back-to-back shots, as the Thunder still led the Lakers midway through the third, 83-67. With a fast break, Clarkson faked a pass and finished with a layup instead while the foul, as the Lakers trailed 89-75. The Lakers continued to push through and battle back, attempting to cut the lead, as Sacre got his own rebound and lobbed the ball to Davis. Clarkson drove through past Kanter for a three-point play near the end of the quarter. The Lakers trailed 100-88 entering the final frame.
After giving up two layups to Steven Adams, Ellington hit a three to get the first Laker points of the quarter. The Thunder continued to add to their lead with a series of jumpers. The Lakers found themselves down by 20 again when D.J. Augustin drained a triple and brought the score to 114-94. A Jabari Brown layup and foul sparked a quick 7-0 Lakers run but couldn’t cut into the deficit any further. Clarkson set a new a career high with 28 points with a 25-footer, but the Lakers still trailed by 14. A layup gave Clarkson 30 points, but the game eventually ended with the Lakers coming away with the loss 127-117.[divide]
Jeremy Lin Moved Into Lakers Starting Lineup