Lakers vs Oklahoma City: Lakers play strong defense in second half, beat Thunder
Lakers 90, Thunder 87 (final)
The Lakers now have won four consecutive games, this time pulling out a victory over the Thunder in Oklahoma City because of a strong defensive stand in the final moments.
The Lakers held the Thunder to 31 points in the second half and forced Oklahoma City into two last-second missed three-pointers by Kevin Durant and James Harden that could have tied the score.
Kobe Bryant, still dealing with a sore right elbow from a bruised ulnar nerve (or funny bone) he suffered Friday night against the Clippers, had 17 points. It moved him past Elvin Hayes for seventh on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 27,320 points.
His 16-foot jumper gave the Lakers a 90-87 lead with 56.4 seconds left.
The Thunder called a timeout to set up a play.
Ron Artest stipped the ball away from Kevin Durant for a Thunder turnover, but Bryant missed an ensuing shot, giving the ball back to the Thunder with 25.2 seconds left.
But the Lakers stepped up on defense again.
Pau Gasol took a charge on Russell Westbrook with 17.3 seconds left.
However, the Lakers left the door open because Lamar Odom missed two free throws with 10.9 seconds left.
Lakers 72, Thunder 69 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers finally caught the Thunder to end the third quarter.
The Lakers also managed to slow down Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, who did not score in the third quarter after getting 17 points in the first half
Thunder 56, Lakers 51 (end of first half)
The trailed by 14 points in the second quarter but closed that gap to five points by halftime after Pau Gasol scored on a last-second basket.
Gasol led the Lakers with 13 points and six rebounds in the first half.
Kobe Bryant, who had six points on three-of-seven shooting from the field, was called for a technical foul with 59.8 seconds left in the second quarter.
Andrew Bynum provided a boost with 10 points on three-of-five shooting from the field while he was four of six from the free-throw line.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook was giving the Lakers trouble, making seven of 10 shots in the first half while scoring 17 points.
Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer at 28.6 points a game, was held to 10 points on four-of-seven shooting.
Thunder 28, Lakers 22 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers started slow, trailing by 10 points early in the first quarter.
But that has been how the Lakers have operated all season when they play early games.
This one started at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time.
But the Lakers got it together behind Pau Gasol, who had 10 points in the opening quarter. He also picked up two fouls in the first quarter.
The last time the Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Ford Center, Los Angeles won Game 6 of their first-round playoff series to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
Kobe Bryant missed a shot, but Pau Gasol's last-second tip-in gave the Lakers the series-clinching victory.
The Lakers play a different Thunder team on Sunday.
Oklahoma City traded undersized power forward Jeff Green and lightweight center Nenad Krstic to the Boston Celtics for beefy center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson.
Oklahoma City also acquired center Nazr Mohammed from Charlotte.
Perkins, who won't play for another two to three weeks while he recovers from a sprained left knee, and Mohammed give the Thunder more size to compete with the powerful front lines of the Western Conference contenders, including the Lakers with 7-foot starters Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol as well as top reserve Lamar Odom.
-- Broderick Turner, reporting from Oklahoma City
Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum blocks a shot by Thunder center Serge Ibaka in the first half Sunday. Credit: Mark D. Smith / US Presswire