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Lakers vs Thunder: Lakers get by Thunder

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Lakers 101, Thunder 94 (final)

There is much respect between the Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, much of it born out of the sWestern Conference playoff series the two teams played last year that Los Angeles won, four games to two.

So when the game was over Monday night, Kobe Bryant, who struggled at the free-throw line late, hugged Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who was as blur the Lakers had difficulty stopping, and forward Kevin Durant.

The Lakers had a 15-point lead in the third quarter, but it didn't last.

The Lakers had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and saw it sliced to 98-94 before holding on.

Bryant missed three consecutive free throws in the last 37.8 seconds, leaving the door open for the Thunder.

After Westbrook missed two free throws, Andrew Bynum couldn't get the rebound.

It meant Westbrook had another opportunity, but he shot an air ball from behind the three-point line.

Bryant then stepped to the free-throw line with 15.1 seconds left and calmly sank both free throws for a 101-94 lead.

Bryant finished with 21 points and seven assists.

Westbrook had 32 points and 12 assists while Durant had 24 points, but he was just eight-for-24 shooting from the field.

It was a tough night for Bynum.

Foul trouble kept doing him in yet again.

Bynum picked up his fifth foul with 10:07 left in the game and was forced to take a seat on the bench.

It gave the Lakers one less seven-footer they could go to in the game.

RELATED: Lakers vs. Thunder photos

Lakers 81, Thunder 75 (end of third quarter)

A quick 14-0 run to start the third quarter helped the Lakers open a 15-point lead.

But that lead didn't last for the entire quarter.

The Thunder closed to within 78-75 on a Russell Westbrook drive to the basket.

The Lakers' fans were not happy, booing their team.

But a Steve Blake three-pointer helped the Lakers restore some order heading into the fourth quarter.

Lakers 58, Thunder 55 (end of first half)

It took four Lakers scoring in double figures for them to hold off the Thunder heading into halftime.

Lamar Odom gave the Lakers a big lift off the bench in the seccond quarter, scoring 10 of his 12 points.

Andrew Bynum was having a strong game as well until getting into foul trouble. He picked up his third foul with 2:18 left in the half trying to stop Russell Westbrook on a drive.

Bynum had 10 points on five-for-seven shooting and four rebounds when he went to the bench.

Westbrook had 18 points in the first half.

Lakers 28, Thunder 28 (end of first quarter)

It ended up in a tie, despite the Lakers starting strong in the first quarter Monday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers went inside to Andrew Bynum, who had eight points on four-for-five shooting.

Kobe Bryant had four assists in the first quarter.

It went just as expected for the Thunder.

Kevin Durant had 14 points on four-for-six shooting and Russell Westbrook had eight points and four assists.

Pregame

The Lakers know they will have their hands full against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers haven't played the Thunder since beating Oklahoma City in six tough games during the first round of the Western Conference playoffs last year.

If the Lakers use their size, it will help them against the Thunder.

The Lakers start seven-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol while the Thunder goes with seven-foot Nenad Kristic and 6-9 Jeff Green.

But the Thunder has a  lot of speed the Lakers will have to contend with.

-- Broderick Turner

Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest muscles his way between Thunder guard James Harden and forward Nick Collison in the first half Monday night at Staples Center. Collison was called for a foul on the play. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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Great job tonight Lakerz!!! Awesome to see the team keep its composure in the face of a quality opponent and the league's top scorer. Good also to see Pau and Lamar bounce back from poor performances yesterday against Blake Griffin to get this win against the Thunder. Gasol more than held his own against Durant with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocked shots compared to Durant's 24 points, 8 boards, 1 dish and 1 block. Let's continue playing like this for the rest of this difficult stretch of games this month!

GO LAKERZ!!!

This week will be a great barometer for the Lakers as they approach the All-Star break. I am really tired of hearing how we don't perform well against teams with winning records. That is just another of the many ridiculous arguments that continue to follow this team. The other one being that Kobe is "slowing down". He is fifth in the league in ppg and that is after coming off a knee surgery! Hopefully we sweep this week, and then ESPN can lead they're NBA "analysis" with "Can anyone stop the Lakers?"


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