Oklahoma City made another statement Sunday, perhaps its biggest to date, by going into Los Angeles and beating the two-time defending champions by 14 on the their home floor.
The Thunder's 120-106 victory over the reeling Lakers illustrates in the clearest terms that Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Co. are serious threats in the Western Conference in this postseason.
"It means a lot for us, gives us a lot of confidence coming in and beating a great team like this," Durant said. "We've just got to keep pushing. We have two more games left and we're trying to get better every time we step out on the floor."
The Lakers did win the season series 2-1 with Oklahoma City. These teams met in the first round last year, with the Thunder taking the champs to six games. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks believes the teams match up well against each other.
"We play each other very tough," Brooks said after Sunday's game. "The two games that we lost could have gone either way. I thought we played good (Sunday). It's a very tough matchup regardless. They're big inside, they've got terrific play off the bench, and Kobe, he's a game-winner, one of the best players ever."
Oklahoma City (54-26) still has an opportunity to finish as high as the No. 2 seed in the West with two games left in the regular season. Both the Lakers and Dallas are 55-25.
The Thunder's next game is Monday night at Sacramento.
THUNDER 120, LAKERS 106: Kevin Durant scored 31 points and Russell Westbrook added 26, as Oklahoma City pulled away in the final few minutes to saddle the Lakers with their fifth straight loss. The Thunder's winning streak is up to four and that's 15 wins in the last 18 games overall. Oklahoma City shot 56 percent and outrebounded the Lakers 38-34.
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