After completing an impressive 20-point comeback in Denver last night, the Los Angeles Lakers had to quickly fly back home to host one of the NBA’s best teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Lakers just met the Thunder last Saturday, turning in one of their worst performances in a 40-point loss in Oklahoma City. The Lakers were without Kobe Bryant in the first meeting, however, which wouldn’t be the case this time.
Unfortunately for the Lakers they would be without two of their better players off the bench as Julius Randle and Nick Young would both miss the game. In the first meeting the Thunder dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Lakers by 24, something the Lakers would have to fix if they plan on getting their first back-to-back victories of the year.
Roy Hibbert got off to a good start with the first four points for the Lakers, and the teams traded baskets early, but a pair of free throws from Kevin Durant gave the Thunder an early 10-8 lead. The Lakers had a couple of sloppy turnovers and Durant blocked Kobe twice on the same possession which lead to a three from Serge Ibaka to give Oklahoma City a 19-10 lead. The Thunder continued to push the lead out before a Lou Williams assist to Brandon Bass ended the Thunder run. A steal would lead to a Kobe dunk in transition, but the Lakers remained behind 25-14. The Thunder committed multiple turnovers down the stretch, but the Lakers failed to take advantage. A jumper to beat the clock by Robert Sacre brought the Lakers within 10, 27-17, at the end of the quarter.
The Lakers got off to a good start, with Clarkson hitting a jumper and finding D’Angelo Russell for a three to bring the Lakers within five. Kobe converted a three-point play on Westbrook and Brandon Bass hit a jumper, but a Westbrook layup kept Oklahoma City ahead by 4, 33-29. The Lakers continued their run as Kobe and Russell hit back-to-back threes to give the Lakers a two-point lead. Kobe continued his strong second quarter by getting Durant to bite on a pump fake and hitting his patented baseline fadeaway to put the Lakers ahead by a point. Oklahoma City would respond with a 7-0 run led by Adams and Ibaka to pull back ahead 50-44. The lead would increase to 10 before a basket from Larry Nance Jr. ended the OKC run. Ibaka broke away for a dunk to end the half as Oklahoma City finished on a 14-2 run to lead 57-46 at halftime.
The Thunder came out firing in the second half with a 7-0 run capped off by an alley-oop from Westbrook to Durant to pull ahead by 18. The onslaught was on at that point as the Thunder would stretch that run out to 22-0 before Kobe finally scored a reverse layup for the Lakers first points nearly midway through the quarter. The Thunder continued to roll as a lob from Westbrook to Roberson put them up 35. Russell came off the bench and converted a nice floater and got the foul, but the Lakers remained behind by 34. Russell would also add a three in transition, but an easy basket for Kanter gave the Thunder a 92-61 lead going into the fourth.
The Lakers emptied their bench to start the fourth as Ryan Kelly and Marcelo Huertas joined Anthony Brown, Robert Sacre, D’Angelo Russell. Things did not go well as they were unable to get going on offense and allowed the Thunder to start the fourth on an 8-2 run. Kelly finally scored the first basket of the quarter on a nice assist from Russell. Kelly added another layup and a three-pointer as the Lakers trailed by 32 midway through the quarter. Kelly continued his solid fourth with a nice left-handed layup and Russell turned around Kyle Singler with a gorgeous move and knocked down a three to give the fans a nice highlight in the fourth. In the end the Lakers would fall again to the Thunder, 120-85.