Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers face the Oklahoma City Thunder for the last time this season. This will be the last game on the road this season for the Lakers, and they will return home to Staples Center for Kobe’s finale on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz.
The Thunder can clinch the third seed in the Western Conference tonight with a win against the Lakers, but Kobe would love to get one more win over Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Only two games remain in Kobe Bryant’s 20-year career, so now is time for Lakers fans to appreciate the final moments of his illustrious career.
Both teams played at a fast pace, pushing the ball up the floor after every rebound. Julius Randle got off to a hot start, scoring five points, including one three-pointer. Kobe Bryant was the first Laker to score besides Randle, hitting one from deep over Serge Ibaka to cut the Lakers deficit down to three points. Things got a bit chippy in the paint as Randle battled Westbrook for a board. Westbrook wrestled Randle to the ground, and Randle jumped up aggressively, but the referees jumped in before it could escalate. The play resulted in a double technical foul on both Westbrook and Randle. Kobe had another hot first quarter, scoring 13 points on 4-10 shooting from the field, keeping the Lakers in the game. The Lakers shot just 32 percent from the field, but they only trailed 21-27 at the end of the first quarter.
The second unit of both teams struggled to score from the field and all of the points in the first three minutes of the second quarter were scored from the free-throw line. The Thunder pushed their lead to seven points, but the Lakers battled back behind Robert Sacre’s four straight points to cut the lead down to three points. Clarkson finally made his first field goal of the game from beyond the arc, but Westbrook answered with an acrobatic circus shot for the three-point play. The Lakers trailed the Thunder 32-37 midway through the second quarter. The Lakers left Kevin Durant wide open beyond the arc twice, and Durant made them pay both times. The Thunder pushed their lead to 10 points with just 3:22 remaining in the first half. The Lakers’ defense fell apart at the end of the quarter as the Thunder scored easily in the paint. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double in the first half, scoring 11 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Lakers trailed the Thunder 48-58.
D’Angelo Russell was the second Laker in double figures after he made two free throws to cut the Thunder’s lead to nine points with nine minutes to play in the third quarter. Roy Hibbert was charged with a flagrant foul on Steven Adams, and the Thunder pushed their lead up to 17 points just one minute after the Lakers cut it to single figures. The Thunder cruised to a 28 point lead midway through the third after a 19-0 run. The Lakers did not look like they wanted any part of this game after the Thunder’s surge. The Lakers turned the ball over time after time, and it appeared that they could not wait for time to expire. At the end of the third quarter, the Lakers did not stand a chance, trailing the Thunder 61-89.
Marcelo Huertas was charged with a technical foul for throwing the ball at the stanchion after getting beat back door by Randy Foye for a layup. Oklahoma City demanded that Kobe re-entered the game with “We want Kobe!” chants as he was getting his right shoulder wrapped with ice. Meanwhile, on the floor, Kyle Singler drilled a three to extend the Thunder’s lead to 43 points. Kobe Bryant did not end up returning to the game, and he will play the final game of his career on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. Kobe finished the game with 13 points; all of them were scored in the first quarter. Russell Westbrook finished the game with 13 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds while Kevin Durant added 34 points of his own.
Final Score: Lakers 79 Thunder 112