In their final road game of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers showed the same fight they have shown these last couple of weeks, but the star power of the Oklahoma City Thunder was just too much.
A big third quarter allowed the Thunder to take control as they took a 119-103 victory over the shorthanded Lakers. Russell Westbrook was the big story of the night as he notched the first 20-20-20 game in the NBA since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers with 23 points and knocked down five three-pointers while Alex Caruso kept up his strong play of late with 15 points and seven assists off the bench. Reggie Bullock also had another solid outing with 13 points.
Things threatened to get out of control for the Lakers early on as they found themselves down 11 quickly in the first quarter, but they would eventually turn things around thanks to an increased focus on defense and great ball movement.
The Lakers would even take a brief lead in the second quarter thanks to some hot shooting from Caldwell-Pope but ultimately found themselves down by four at the half. Things came apart in the third quarter as Oklahoma City pushed the lead as high as 18 points, but they cut the lead to as little as five in the fourth behind a group led by Caruso, Caldwell-Pope, and Jonathan Williams before Oklahoma City pushed things back out for good.
The Thunder are the league’s best at forcing miscues and offensive rebounds and that was a main reason the Thunder were able to get the win. They forced the Lakers into 21 turnovers while grabbing 17 offensive rebounds to keep their possessions alive.
Surprisingly, it was Jerami Grant who led the Thunder with 22 points while Paul George added 19. All five Thunder starters finished in double-figures including Steven Adams who had five blocks and seven offensive rebounds to his 13 points.
The Lakers will now return to Los Angeles for the remainder of the regular season as each of their last four games takes place at Staples Center, starting with the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.