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Oklahoma City at Los Angeles

Pau, Kobe each net 21, Lakers drop Thunder

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder have earned the Los Angeles Lakers' respect and attention as a prime contender for their NBA title.

If Durant and Westbrook had managed to hit even a few late 3-pointers Monday night, they finally might have earned their first road victory against the Lakers since before their franchise left Seattle.

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Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant scored 21 points apiece, and the Lakers held off the Thunder 101-94 for their eighth victory in nine games.

Although Bryant missed three free throws in the final minute, the Lakers hung on for their 11th consecutive victory against Oklahoma City at Staples Center, including three during a highly competitive first-round playoff series last spring.

Lamar Odom had 16 points and Derek Fisher scored a season-high 15 for the Lakers in the clubs' first meeting since Los Angeles sent home the eighth-seeded Thunder in six games.

"We don't look at them as kids any more," Odom said. "This team pushed us last year. We have to play them hard, or else they can stick it to you when it counts. They're still one of the best teams in the league. We respect them."

Westbrook had 32 points and 12 assists, and he led a late run aided by those three consecutive misses by Bryant. But Westbrook missed two free throws of his own with 21.4 seconds left before airballing a 3-point attempt.

Durant had 24 points on 8-of-24 shooting for the Thunder, whose four-game winning streak ended. The Thunder were undone by 2-of-22 shooting from the 3-point line, including a 1-for-8 effort by Durant, who missed 14 of 18 shots in the final three quarters.

"It's very tough, because we work on that a lot," Durant said. "We got some good looks, but we just couldn't make them. That's the name of the game. We've got to continue to work at it, and we can't get down on ourselves. We've got to keep our heads up and learn from our mistakes. We're maturing and growing up as a team, and we know what it takes to win."

One day after the Lakers wilted in the fourth quarter of a streak-snapping loss to the Clippers, Los Angeles persevered through the tense final minutes of its third game in four nights. Bryant and Gasol hit more big shots down the stretch than Oklahoma City, which had won 13 of 18 and had the previous three days off.

"We didn't play well offensively, but a lot of that had to do with the Lakers," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "We were playing too much isolation basketball, and that hurt us. But the Lakers make you do things that you don't want to do, and that's what makes them a good team."

Although Oklahoma City's outstanding season makes another first-round playoff series highly unlikely, the teams easily could meet for bigger stakes. They have the makings of a lively rivalry, with Bryant and Durant trading artistic baskets while the Lakers' half-court offense clashes intriguingly with the Thunder's uptempo attack.

"It raised our level to play them," Bryant said of the clubs' first-round series. "Throughout the rest of the playoffs, we didn't face a team that played with that much energy. ... I thought they played well here. We've just been able to finish out games against them, no matter how well they play."

Los Angeles scored 14 consecutive points in the third quarter and took a 76-61 lead by grinding the game into a half-court contest, but the Thunder rediscovered their transition game and made a 14-2 rally late in the period to pull within 81-75 heading to the fourth.

Gasol scored back-to-back baskets to put the Lakers up 98-88 with 3:47 to play.

The Lakers are near the close of a brutal stretch with 15 games in 25 days, but the week only gets tougher with visits to Dallas on Wednesday and Denver on Friday before their first back-to-back days off since immediately after Christmas.

Durant came out firing against the Lakers, scoring 14 of the Thunder's 28 points in the first quarter. Los Angeles stayed in it early with low-post baskets from Bynum and Gasol, who combined for 14 first-quarter points.

Westbrook had 18 points in the first half, but the Lakers led 58-55 with four scorers in double figures.

Notes

  • Before the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson confirmed Ron Artest's technical foul and ejection from the loss Sunday to the Clippers have been rescinded by the NBA. Artest won't be fined $4,000. Artest didn't appear to do anything wrong in the late-game scuffle featuring Odom, Baron Davis and Blake Griffin, whose technical and ejection also were rescinded, according to the Clippers.
  • The clubs will meet two more times this season.
  • Fans near courtside included Denzel Washington, Glenn Frey and director Peter Berg.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
 
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Pau Gasol has 21 points and seven boards and the Lakers get their eighth win in nine games. (Getty Images)
Pau Gasol has 21 points and seven boards and the Lakers get their eighth win in nine games. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Oklahoma City (27-14)2827201994
L.A. Lakers (31-12) «28302320101
OKC:R. Westbrook 32 Pts
OKC:S. Ibaka 10 Reb
OKC:R. Westbrook 12 Ast
LAL:K. Bryant 21 Pts
LAL:A. Bynum 10 Reb
LAL:K. Bryant 7 Ast
Players of the Game
Oklahoma CityLos Angeles

Russell Westbrook

Kobe Bryant
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
325122157
Oklahoma City
K. Durant, SF428-247-781424
R. Westbrook, PG4212-238-11512132
J. Green, PF303-110-02256
T. Sefolosha, SF190-10-03000
N. Krstic, C162-40-04014
S. Ibaka, PF334-73-4100411
J. Harden, SG294-110-03039
N. Collison, PF224-50-05358
E. Maynor, PG60-10-00300
M. Peterson, SGDid Not Play
R. Ivey, PGDid Not Play
D. Cook, SGDid Not Play
D. White, PFDid Not Play
B. Mullens, CDid Not Play
C. Aldrich, CDid Not Play
Totals 37-8718-2240212394
 42.5%81.8% 
Los Angeles
P. Gasol, PF418-195-572221
R. Artest, SF372-62-43527
K. Bryant, SG337-126-1157221
D. Fisher, PG315-103-323115
A. Bynum, C225-80-0100510
L. Odom, PF336-92-372216
S. Brown, PG173-90-02006
S. Blake, PG151-10-01313
L. Walton, SF111-20-04232
T. Ratliff, CDid Not Play
J. Smith, PFDid Not Play
M. Barnes, SFDid Not Play
D. Caracter, PFDid Not Play
D. Ebanks, SFDid Not Play
Totals 38-7618-26412418101
 50.0%69.2% 
Other Games
Pho 129 Final
NY 121
Utah 101 Final
Wash 108
Chi 96 Final
Mem 84
Char 92 Final
Phi 96
Tor 81 Final
NO 85
Mil 84 Final
Hou 93
Dal 89 Final
Det 103
Ind 107 Final
LAC 114
Sac 98 Final
Atl 100
NJ 100 Final
GS 109
Orl 106 Final
Bos 109
Min 102 Final
Port 113