Thunder pounds Lakers, 116-101
Thunder 116 - Lakers 101 (end of regulation)
The fourth quarter was a chore and nothing more for the Lakers and Thunder as the road team coasted to a 15-point victory at Staples Center.
Kevin Durant poured in 42 points on 16-25 shooting. Russell Westbrook had 27 points and 10 assists while Kevin Martin chipped in 15 off the bench. The Thunder shot 50.6% from the field as they improve to 27-8.
The Lakers, playing without Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) and Steve Blake (abdominal surgery), were easily overmatched by one of the best teams in the league. Now the Lakers (15-21) will be without Jordan Hill for the remainder of the season with a hip injury.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points on 8-23 shooting. Metta World Peace put up 18 shots, making five for 12 points. Antawn Jamison was solid with 19 points (8-17 shooting) and 10 rebounds.
Earl Clark, in his first start with the team, notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lakers shot 39.8% from the field. After a day off, the team will next host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
Thunder 93 - Lakers 73 (end of third quarter)
Kevin Durant continued to dominate the Lakers, notching 40 points and eight rebounds through three quarters. The Thunder All-Star forward hit 15-22 shots while his team shot 53.8% from the field.
The Lakers seemed lost for most of the period but closed within 20 on a late three-pointer from Kobe Bryant. The Lakers shot just 37.8% from the field with just two players in double figures. Bryant had 26 on 7-19 shooting but hit 10 of 13 from the line. Antawn Jamison scored 17 on 7-13 shooting.
Earl Clark’s hot start slowed, still on eight points. The forward also had eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
Thunder 64 - Lakers 48 (halftime)
The Lakers kept close to the Thunder for much of the third. Down five (50-45) with 3:16 left in the half, the Thunder outscored the Lakers 14-3 to head into the break with a 16-point lead.
Kevin Durant had 25 in just 21 minutes, shooting 10-15 from the field. Russell Westbrook heated up late, scoring 10 with seven assists. Kevin Martin contributed 10 off the bench as the Thunder shot 59.1% from the field.
Kobe Bryant scored 16 points on 5-10 shooting as the lone Laker in double-figures. Earl Clark and Metta World Peace had eight apiece but World Peace shot 4-14 to get there. As a team the Lakers hit 41.7% from the field.
Midway through the period, the Lakers announced that Jordan Hill will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury.
Lakers 25 - Thunder 25 (end of first quarter)
Despite playing short-handed, the Lakers withstood an early punch from the Thunder to finish the quarter tied at 25.
The Thunder scored nine straight points to take a 21-12 lead. After falling behind by 11, the Lakers reeled off the final 11 of the quarter.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with nine points. Russell Westbrook shot just 1-5 from the field for three points but had five assists as the Thunder collectively shot 47.6% from the field.
Bryant led the Lakers with seven but it was Earl Clark, making his first start with the team, who helped spur the comeback. Clark scored six on 3-4 shooting. The Lakers hit 46.2% from the field in the period.
On Friday night at Staples Center, the Lakers (15-20) will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (27-8). Once again they’ll have to play without Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion), Jordan Hill (hip) and Steve Blake (abdominal surgery).
The Lakers have lost five straight games and while the effort and energy was strong against the last two opponents (Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs), neither outcome went their way. Earl Clark was the stand-out player against San Antonio and will get his first start with the team, playing small forward against Kevin Durant. Metta World Peace will technically start at the four, although Coach Mike D’Antoni considers the positions interchangeable.
Robert Sacre is expected to start for Howard at center.
The Thunder are a high-scoring team and the Lakers (who can also put up a lot of points) haven’t been able to slow down high-powered opponents. At full strength Oklahoma City would be a difficult challenge for the Lakers. As short-handed as they are, the Lakers are the underdog despite playing at home.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Thunder.
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Email Eric Pincus at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.
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