The Lakers had to look to shut down the Thunder offensively around the perimeter, as their baskets from Westbrook and Durant alone were crushing any type of defense Coach Mike Brown attempted to organize. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol had to become more apparent on both ends of the court in order for this game to be even close, and Kobe Bryant needed to snap back into shape offensively as he continued on a declining slope that he was still unable to recover from after their previous game in Dallas.
Both teams went back and forth with baskets as soon as the second half opened up, and even Metta World Peace chimed in with another bucket to keep the Lakers competing with the home side. Bynum continued to struggle on offense, and started looking towards defensive rebounds to keep his stats growing despite his mediocre shot attempts. Durant continued to cruise past the Lakers defense, helping OKC take a 10 point lead, their largest of the game. The Lakers called for a timeout after repeated trips down the court with no baskets to prove for it, and enough turnovers to prove that their lack of focus was allowing the Thunder to run away with this game.
Kobe Bryant continued to test his luck with the ball, holding onto it during complete possessions only to miss a wide range jumper. He eventually cleared up his dry spell with a three point play while drawing a foul from Kendrick Perkins. The Lakers began looking to draw in fouls during shooting attempts to get themselves back into the game from the free throw line alone, allowing the bench to close out the quarter and give a few of the starters time to rest before what looked to be another fourth quarter battle. Too many wide range shots instead of looking to put the ball into the post towards the Lakers big men gave the Thunder the opportunity to force turnovers and snatch up the awful rebounds. With Andrew Bynum only having eight points in the game as the two minute marker passed in the quarter, OKC continued to surge off of their zero turnovers and excellent shooting, reaching an 11 point lead. The Thunder entered the final quarter of the game with a somewhat comfortable lead, 73-62.
Laker fans were crossing their fingers as the final quarter began, hoping the Lakers could pull off another strong fourth quarter to somehow shut down the Thunder that had been impressive the first three quarters. Both teams were guilty of committing multiple fouls and turnovers in the first two minutes, making it look as if the lead wouldn’t change and the Lakers were going to enter the All-Star break with another road loss.
Andrew Bynum erupted for the first time in what seemed like forever with a huge dunk, which the Thunder were forced to call a time out for while he was still hanging on the rim. Bynum struck again in the post, cutting the lead to seven and making Kevin Durant step back onto the floor from the bench earlier than desired. James Harder continued to be one of the main men that the Thunder could count on, driving by Blake into the paint to lay in a basket over Bynum.
The Lakers looked towards shooting baskets from the outside as the game pressed on, with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol not being utilized in the post to score over the big men that the Thunder were lacking. The combination of defensive effort from Westbrook, Durant and Harden shut down World Peace, Fisher and Bryant around and just inside of their offensive arc. Oklahoma City finished off the game with a plethora of three-pointers and offensive rebounds, keeping the ball out of L.A.’s hands and exciting their home fans as the quarter drew to a close. The Lakers looked as if they had a lot to work on during the All-Star break, losing at the hands of the young Thunder 100-85.