Thunder hold off Lakers’ charge, 122-105
Posted at: 03/05/2013 11:09 PM
By JEFF LATZKE
(AP) OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook had 37 points and 10 rebounds, Kevin Durant scored 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off a second-half charge to beat the improving Los Angeles Lakers 122-105 on Tuesday night.
The Thunder led from start to finish, but had their 18-point lead whittled down to five midway through the fourth quarter. Serge Ibaka, who dodged a suspension after delivering a low blow against Blake Griffin in Oklahoma City’s previous game, hit a 3-pointer and Westbrook had a two-handed slam as the Thunder scored the last 12 points.
Los Angeles didn’t score for the last 6:14.
Kobe Bryant ended up with 30 points after leaving the game with a right elbow injury in the first quarter. Steve Nash matched his season best with 20 points as the Lakers fell back below .500 after reaching the mark for the first time since December.
Oklahoma City tied an NBA record with two turnovers. Milwaukee set the record in a game against Indiana on April 1, 2006, and Cleveland tied it in an overtime game against Portland on March 19, 2009.
The Lakers trailed by as much as 18 in the opening minutes of the second half. But Bryant and Nash hit 3-pointers during a string of eight straight points to get the deficit down to 85-79 with 3:31 to go in the third quarter.
Oklahoma City bumped the lead back up to 104-91 on Derek Fisher’s 3-pointer soon after a fan hit a half-court shot to win $20,000 in the break between the third and fourth quarters. The Lakers then got as close as 110-105 after Nash’s 3-pointer with 6:14 left.
Nash and Metta World Peace each missed 3s during a string of four straight empty possessions with L.A. down by six, and Ibaka then connected on a 3-pointer from the right corner to help the Thunder start pulling away.
World Peace finished with 16 points and Dwight Howard had six points and 16 rebounds before fouling out with 2:24 remaining. Los Angeles fell to 1-11 in road games against the teams that currently occupy the eight Western Conference playoff spots and is now 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Utah.
After finally pulling back to .500 during a season marred by injuries, the Lakers got another big scare. Bryant came out of the game and headed to the locker room with a right elbow injury less than 4 minutes in. Bryant air-balled his first shot from 3-point range and was grabbing at the elbow, even crossing up arms with Durant after the ball had been stolen away by Durant.
A trainer accompanied Bryant to the locker room, starting an anxious few minutes for a team that has already had All-Stars Howard, Nash and Pau Gasol miss time with injuries this season. Gasol is out another two to four weeks with a right foot injury, and reserve Jordan Hill is out for the season after surgery on his left hip.
Bryant was able to return about 4 1/2 minutes later, making his first shot a left-handed hook. He dribbled predominantly with his left hand and even snagged one rebound by cradling it in his left arm.
By the time Bryant went out, the Thunder had already delivered an opening 7-0 burst while Los Angeles missed its first 10 shots from the field. Oklahoma City also closed the first half with seven straight points to go up 71-55 after Durant’s step-back jumper. It was the highest scoring first half of the season for Oklahoma City.
Notes: Durant got his 13th technical foul of the season, three shy of an automatic one-game suspension. Durant, who was on the bench at the time, drew the technical after saying something to referee Joe Crawford as Derek Fisher returned to the sideline for a timeout after getting his own technical from referee Kevin Fehr. Fisher was arguing a personal foul called against Kendrick Perkins. ... Oklahoma City has not played a home game decided by less than 10 points since Dec. 28. The Thunder’s last 12 wins at Chesapeake Energy Arena have been by at least 16 points _ and an average of 24.6 points. Their two losses were by 17 to Brooklyn and 10 to Miami. ... The NBA announced Tuesday that both teams will play preseason games overseas in the fall. Oklahoma City will face Fenerbahce in Istanbul and Philadelphia in Manchester, England. The Lakers will play Golden State twice, in Beijing and Shanghai.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)