OKLAHOMA CITY: It is not so easy any more for the Los Angeles Lakers to push around the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points,
Russell Westbrook added 19 and the Thunder beat the Lakers 100-85 on
Thursday to head into the National Basketball Association's All-Star
break tied for the league's best record.
The Thunder won their 12th straight home game
and denied Los Angeles the chance to head into the mid-season break with
back-to-back statement wins on the road. The Lakers had won at
defending champions Dallas a night earlier and were trying to follow it
up by knocking off the other half of last year's West Finals.
'We've been on a good roll
lately. We've got to just keep working hard. It's not over yet. We're
glad we're going into the break with some wins but I think it's
important for us to come out of the break with some energy and some
momentum,' said Durant.
Oklahoma and Miami both have NBA-leading 27-7 records at the break. The Lakers are 20-14 and are fifth in the West.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points but went seven for 24 from the field for Los Angeles. Pau Gasol had 22 points and nine rebounds.
The Thunder pulled away in the second half to
win their second in a row against the Lakers, who won eight of the
teams' previous nine regular-season meetings and knocked Oklahoma out of
the 2010 play-offs in the first round.
'They did a great job. They took advantage of
opportunities when they presented themselves, jumped out to a good
cushion and we could never get the game back in balance,' Bryant said.
The Lakers, once able to use their size
advantage against Oklahoma, struggled to get those same inside baskets
against the remade Thunder interior of NBA blocks leader Serge Ibaka and
Centre Andrew Bynum's two-handed slam got the
Lakers to 74-81 with seven minutes remaining, only for Oklahoma to come
right back by scoring the next seven points.
Los Angeles did not get any closer than nine after that.