The Lakers (8-7) edged Russell Westbrook and the Thunder (8-7) in a wild 111-109 win at the Staples Center on Tuesday night. Below are five takeaways from the action:
1. A stolen moment
Nick Young hit the game-winning shot with five seconds on the clock, but the play was drawn up for Lakers guard Lou Williams.
After Brandon Ingram got into a crease of the Thunder defense and drew two defenders, he turned and threw a pass in Williams’ direction. That is when Young swept in and grabbed the ball. The next thing Williams knew, Young’s shot was in the air and the moment was all his.
“I thought it looked like it was coming to me but I just saw a flash of yellow run in front of me, grab the ball and before I could react it was in the air and it was a good bucket,” Williams said. “It’s exactly how we drew it up.”
Young finished with 17 points and four threes, none more important than the one he was never supposed to shoot.
2. Stepping in front of a train
Westbrook went into halftime with 11 points and eight assists, which are tempered numbers considering the way he has bulldozed through defenses so far this season.
Lakers Coach Luke Walton used Young on the NBA’s leading scorer for all but a short period of the fourth quarter. Young did a good job of turning Westbrook into a facilitator in the first half, but Westbrook eventually found a rhythm and started beating the Lakers in all kinds of ways.
“I’ve said it before, a superstar you’re never going to shut down,” Walton said. “It’s all about how hard you make them work. I thought we did a good with that for the most part.”
3. Solid in relief
The Lakers were without point guard D’Angelo Russell (knee soreness) for the second time in three games, which led Walton to plug veteran point guard Jose Calderon into the starting lineup.
Calderon was a very viable stopgap, notching 12 points — coming off four three-pointers on five attempts — six assists, six rebounds and two steals in nearly 23 minutes of action. He also helped push the pace after a lethargic offensive start, which is something Walton has said he wants to see more of.
“I thought Jose did a phenomenal job filling in, giving us that veteran leadership out there on the floor,” Williams said. “He was able to make some big timely shots and he held it down.”
Russell will also miss the Lakers’ road game against the Warriors on Wednesday night, which only heightens the significance of Calderon’s contributions against the Thunder.
4. Regaining form
The Clarkson the Lakers have grown used to this season returned to the court on Tuesday. The third-year guard led the team with 18 points, dished out four assists and also grabbed four steals in the win. He shot seven of 14 from the field and was especially effective in pick-and-roll situations while pacing the Lakers’ second unit.
Twelve of his 18 points came in the second half and he was on the floor with Young, Williams, Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. for the game-winning possession.
“I just try to forget about the game, it’s an 82-game season,” Clarkson said of how he bounced back. “Sometimes you’re going to miss shots. I was forcing them last game, taking shots out of rhythm.”
5. Not quite there
Lakers forward Julius Randle was questionable for Tuesday’s game with a hip pointer. He did end up starting, but played a season-low 21 minutes and scored a season-low three points.
Randle also played just seven minutes in the second half and was not on the floor down the stretch. When Walton talked to reporters after the game he had not yet asked Randle how his hip felt.
“I don’t know if it was hurting or if it was just in his head,” Walton said. “But he seemed to be a little less aggressive tonight than he’s been.”