Unlike their first two meetings, the Los Angeles Lakers held on to their big lead en route to a 116-95 blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Anthony Davis was a late scratch due to knee soreness, so LeBron James took it upon himself to get the offense going with three buckets at the rim to start off the game. The Lakers’ transition defense left much to be desired, though a 9-0 run keyed by Avery Bradley put them ahead 15-8 early.
James drained the team’s fourth triple of the quarter while Russell Westbrook nailed a deep two to give Los Angeles an 11-point lead. Defensively, the Lakers were able to get away with leaving the Thunder shooters, who were unable to scratch from outside on 12 first-quarter attempts and they would take a 32-18 lead after one.
James picked up where he left off to begin the second, getting loose for a dunk and draining another triple while Austin Reaves also buried one from the corner to push their lead to 19. The Lakers as a team caught fire from the field as nearly every shot they took went down, extending the gap to 25 and forcing another Thunder timeout.
As has been the case for most of the season, Los Angeles relaxed while Oklahoma City launched a quick 12-0 run to make it a game again before James ended their drought with an and-one opportunity. James took over on both ends in the final minutes and the Lakers took a 64-45 advantage into the halftime locker room.
The start of the third mirrored the first as James remained a force on the offensive end and put the Lakers ahead by more than 20 points. The team kept the momentum going by playing well on both ends, particularly defensively as the Thunder did not get many quality looks.
Oklahoma City could not buy a field goal as they were ice cold from downtown, while Bradley continued to torch them on the other end. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl managed to hit a couple of threes, but the Lakers took a 93-68 lead into the final period.
The Thunder showed some signs of life to begin the fourth as the Lakers started to struggle with taking care of the basketball. Los Angeles gave Oklahoma City every chance to narrow the gap, but the former lucked out as they remained frigid from outside.
The Thunder seemingly conceded when they emptied their bench midway through the quarter and the Lakers would take home the much-needed win.
James led the way with his seventh 30-plus point game of the season, finishing with 33 points, five rebounds and six assists while Bradley had a season-high 22 points, knocking down six of his eight 3-point attempts.
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