Still without their stars, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in their final home game on Friday night, 120-101.
Dwight Howard muscled his way to a pair of dunks to begin the contest, though the Lakers found themselves tied 7-7 with the Thunder. Malik Monk got involved offensively with a drive to the rim for an and-one and a lob, but a turnover allowed Oklahoma City to go up 14-12.
Monk was able to find Austin Reaves in the corner for a three, but Laker turnovers turned into easy points for the Thunder, who extended their lead to six. Wenyen Gabriel and Wayne Ellington hit back-to-back threes, but Los Angeles found themselves trailing 28-27 after one.
Mason Jones finally got on the scoreboard early in the second after being called up from the G League, powering through a defender for an and-one to put the Lakers ahead 38-32. Defensively, L.A. did a better job of forcing Oklahoma City into tougher shots, and a couple of Monk layups kept them up midway through the quarter.
Stanley Johnson got aggressive on the offensive, barreling to the rim on a few occasions and hitting a midrange jumper to maintain the Lakers’ steady lead. However, Jaylen Hoard was able to fight for a few baskets at the end of the half, leaving L.A. only up 56-52 at halftime.
It was a poor defensive start to the third for the Lakers who allowed open shots to the Thunder, prompting a timeout from head coach Frank Vogel. Howard was able to take advantage of Isaiah Roby’s foul trouble by getting deep post position and scoring but the team found themselves tied 69-69 regardless.
Gabriel subbed in and immediately provided a jolt of energy, eventually getting a rise out of the crowd for a putback dunk. The Laker bench was able to create some separation when they hit several difficult shots and they went into the fourth up 90-82.
Jones showed off his ability to finish through contact again with a tough drive that resulted in a three-point play. L.A. really began to pull away as they scored nearly every time down the floor, ballooning their lead to 15.
The Lakers continued to pound away the tired Thunder defense, with Johnson in particular using his physicality to get all the to the basket on several occasions. With a large lead, the Purple and Gold were able to cruise to a victory and snap their eight-game losing streak.
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