It wasn’t pretty and the Thunder didn’t hold a lead until the score reached 89-87, but when it came down to the business end of a 48 minute battle, the Oklahoma City Thunder were on the high side of a 107-103 scoreline, handing the Los Angeles Lakers their seventh straight home loss and taking a couple of narrow victories into the All Star break.
In what should have been an easy road win for the Thunder against an injury riddled and short handed Lakers unit, Oklahoma City used every minute of the game before coming away with a gritty but unpretty victory. The Lakers jumped OKC early by moving the ball well, getting out in transition and making life difficult for the Thunder. Durant got points, but was not as efficient as he normally is – and you can credit a focused defensive effort by the Lakers for that.
With only 8 players available and active in this one, the Los Angeles Lakers had more energy and played with more aggression than the Thunder unit. Oklahoma City’s head coach Scott Brooks had to continually burn timeouts and used a number of different lineups to try and gather some momentum and hustle.
Poor outside shooting really burnt OKC for the majority of this one and it lead to long rebounds and run outs in transition for the Lakers. Heading into the fourth quarter, it looked like an upset was looming as the Thunder had been unable to reduce the gap and trailed by double digits for most of the contest.
In the final term though, the Thunder were able to finally get it together. Durant struggled from long range but found the bottom of the net at crucial times and flirted with a triple double, rebounding the ball well and setting up his teammates. Fatigue set in and the Lakers became very sloppy with the basketball leading to a number of turnovers and ultimately a valiant but narrow loss.
Kevin Durant shot just 14-33 from the field but finished with 43 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Reggie Jackson managed 16pts of his own and Derek Fisher and Jeremy Lamb had 12 and 11 respectively. For the Lakers, Kendall Marshall had 14 points and 17 assists.
The win now sees the Oklahoma City Thunder leading the league with a 1.5 game advantage over the Indiana Pacers. They head into the All Star break for some much needed rest, but will have Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson and Steve Adams representing the franchise in a range of events.