After losing to Oklahoma City by 40 and 35 points in December, the Lakers gave Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder all they could handle on Friday night at Staples Center.
Led Lou Williams’ career-high 44 points, the Lakers fell just four points short, 117-113, against one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
The Thunder led most of the game, but never by more than 11 points. With a lineup featuring Julius Randle, Marcelo Huertas, Anthony Brown, Brandon Bass and Williams, the Lakers climbed ahead 104-101 on Williams’ driving layup.
Coach Byron Scott brought Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson back into the game for the final four minutes. The Lakers were able to push ahead by three points with 1:58 left -- then Westbrook took over.
The former Bruin was fouled making a layup. After a free throw and a Lakers miss, Westbrook snagged the rebound, drove the length of the court and dished the ball right at the basket to teammate Steven Adams for a dunk.
The Lakers soon fell behind by four points, but still had a prayer after a Clarkson three-pointer with 18.3 seconds left.
Following Westbrook splitting a pair of free throws, Bryant tried to drive around Durant but missed his layup with 3.2 seconds left, demanding a foul from the officials.
Westbrook finished the Lakers off at the line, his final two free throws giving him 36 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Durant scored 24 points, Enes Kanter 15, Cameron Payne 11 and Adams 10. The Thunder shot 50.6% from the field, 29.4% from behind the arc (5 of 17) and 84.6% from the free-throw line (22 of 26).
The Lakers shot 47.6%, 34.6% (9 of 26) and 96.0% (24 of 25).
Bryant scored 19 points in 28.5 minutes; Clarkson added 17.
Randle fouled out with two points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes, missing six of seven shots, but the Lakers outscored the Thunder by six points with the second-year forward on the floor.
D’Angelo Russell tried to play through a sprained ankle he sustained on Thursday night in Sacramento, but only logged eight minutes, finishing with two points and two assists before heading to the locker room for treatment.
The Lakers (8-30) next host the Utah Jazz (15-20) on Sunday. The Thunder (26-11) travel to Portland to play the Trail Blazers (15-24) on Sunday.
Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.