Oklahoma City Thunder beat Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY — Three games into his comeback from injury, Kobe Bryant remains a work in progress for the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder continued their early season roll Friday.
Durant had 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists, Russell Westbrook added 19 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds and the Thunder routed the Los Angeles Lakers 122-97.
Serge Ibaka added 19 points and 10 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season and Reggie Jackson also scored 19 for Oklahoma City, which has won five straight and 13 of its past 14 games.
The Thunder are unbeaten in 11 home games this season and have won four straight at home over the Lakers.
“We have a pretty good team,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s been the case for a while now. One of the things that I tell the guys, every season has its own identity.
“We started the season knowing that we wanted to … just continue to build trust in each other and just focus on each other and not worry about anything else, but trying to make your teammates look good. It’s early, but we’ve done a great job with that.”
Los Angeles has lost all three games since Bryant’s return from a torn Achilles tendon. Bryant had 13 assists — just two shy of his career high — but showed little of his trademark offensive ability, finishing with four points on 2-of-6 shooting. He played 23 minutes and sat out the fourth quarter with the game out of hand.
“There is no secret formula that you can sprinkle out there,” Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’ll get more comfortable, then the guys will get more comfortable around him and then he’ll do a better job.”
Nick Young led the Lakers with 17 points. Xavier Henry, playing in his hometown, scored 15 points for Los Angeles while Pau Gasol had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Oklahoma City made quick work of the Lakers, setting season highs with 38 points in the first quarter and 66 points in the first half. Oklahoma City’s lead was mostly in double digits from the three-minute mark of the first quarter on. The Thunder finished with a season-high 34 assists and outrebounded the Lakers 59-41.
“They’re a good team and they just beat us,” D’Antoni said. “That’s number one. Our defense is not keeping it in front of us right now and offensive rebounds, it’s been a problem for us for a while. We turn the ball over too much. It’s a combination of them outrunning us and them getting to the boards.”
The Lakers played without three injured point guards — Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake — forcing Bryant into the position even as he works his way back from his injury. Los Angeles committed 19 turnovers, including seven by Bryant.
Los Angeles jumped to a quick 13-7 lead and briefly looked as if it might stay with the Thunder, but Durant exited a timeout with a dunk and a 16-foot jumper to ignite an 18-3 run that put Oklahoma City in control.
A 10-0 run by the Lakers early in the second quarter pulled them within 44-38, but Oklahoma City answered with a 12-0 spurt and the lead remained in double digits the rest of the way. The Thunder led 66-51 at halftime and weren’t challenged after that.
As good as they’ve been playing, Durant said the Thunder still have room for improvement.
“We just want to play our best brand of basketball at the right time,” he said. “But we can’t do that unless we focus on today. Today we did a good job of playing together and playing hard on the defensive end. We can’t think about April. We’ve got to get past these days.
“We can be a lot better. There are a lot of things we need to work on — transition defense, rebounding, passing. On offense we’ve got to flow a little better. But our chemistry is growing. That’s the most important thing.”
On the Lakers’ first two possessions, Bryant was tied up by Oklahoma City rookie Andre Roberson, then had the ball stolen by Westbrook. Bryant didn’t take a shot until making a steal that led to a breakaway with 3:50 left in the first quarter, but he eschewed dunking the ball, instead laying it off the backboard.
Bryant went 2 of 2 from the field in the first half and was a bit more aggressive after halftime, but missed all four of his shots. It was his second single-digit scoring outing since returning from his injury on Sunday.
OAKLAND, Calif. — James Harden had 26 points and nine assists, Chandler Parsons scored 23 points and Houston held off Golden State.
Dwight Howard finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds while spending most of the night in foul trouble for the Rockets, who led by 13 points late in the third quarter before the Warriors briefly rallied ahead in the fourth. Patrick Beverley scored nine of his 16 points in the final period to help Houston hand Golden State its second loss in a week.
David Lee had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Stephen Curry had 20 points and nine assists for the Warriors, who outrebounded the Rockets 56-32. But Houston outshot Golden State 49.4 to 47.8 percent and made more big plays late.
PISTONS 103, NETS 99
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Andre Drummond had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Detroit held off a determined Brooklyn rally.
Detroit led by 21 early in the third quarter, but the Nets cut the deficit to two before Detroit’s Kyle Singler made two free throws with 10 seconds left. The Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak and ended Brooklyn’s three-game winning streak.
Drummond, who was shooting 38 percent from the foul line coming into the game — and was much worse than that earlier this season — went 6 of 8 on free throws. Those shots ended up being crucial.
WIZARDS 99, OT
ATLANTA — Al Horford scored a season-high 34 points, including a jumper as time expired in overtime, and Atlanta recovered after blowing a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat Washington.
With the game tied at 99 with 1.8 seconds remaining, Pero Antic passed to Horford, who hit a short fallaway as the buzzer sounded. A video review confirmed the shot beat the buzzer.
Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver had 16 points for Atlanta. Horford grabbed 15 rebounds.
CELTICS 90, KNICKS 86
BOSTON — Avery Bradley scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, hitting a 3-pointer with 2:38 to play to give the Celtics the lead for good, and Boston beat New York.
Jared Sullinger had 19 points and six rebounds, all but one basket in the first half when the Celtics opened a 17-point lead. Courtney Lee scored 18 points and Brandon Bass had 10 points and eight rebounds for Boston, which snapped a two-game losing streak and held onto first place in the woeful Atlantic Division.
BULLS 91, BUCKS 90
MILWAUKEE — Mike Dunleavy hit a three-pointer with 5.8 seconds left and Joakim Noah came up with a block on the other end, leading Chicago over Milwaukee.
Trailing by two in the final seconds, Chicago came up with a tie-up on the defensive end and won the jump ball, allowing Dunleavy to hit a high-arching 3 for the lead.
Noah then blocked O.J. Mayo’s shot to preserve the lead — and a victory that appeared unlikely just seconds before.
NEW ORLEANS — Eric Gordon made 10 of 12 shots on his way to 25 points, and New Orleans won its second straight game.
Jrue Holiday added 20 points and 12 assists, hitting a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute to give New Orleans some breathing room after the Pelicans’ 19-point, fourth-quarter lead was trimmed to six with nearly five minutes remaining.
Ryan Anderson scored 18 for New Orleans, which also benefited from a season-low six turnovers.
RAPTORS 108, 76ERS 100
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points, Terrence Ross had a season-high 24 and Toronto handed Philadelphia its fifth straight loss.
Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and matched his career high with 13 rebounds, Amir Johnson had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Greivis Vasquez scored 12 in his first game with Toronto as the Raptors won for just the second time in eight games. Kyle Lowry had a season-high 11 assists for Toronto.
SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker had 29 points to offset a season-high 42 points from Kevin Love and San Antonio rallied for a victory over Minnesota.
Manu Ginobili had 20 points and nine assists, fueling a 37-21 fourth quarter that helped the Spurs avoid their second home loss this season.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Kyrie Irving scored 31 points, Dion Waiters added 21, and Cleveland used a big second half to earn its second road victory of the season.
Waiters had 20 points in the second half and Cleveland outmuscled the Magic 36-30 in the paint.
Cleveland has won three straight and five out of six. It was the Cavaliers’ first road win since Nov. 16.
PACERS 99, BOBCATS 94
INDIANAPOLIS — Lance Stephenson had 20 points and 11 rebounds to help Indiana its improve its franchise-record home start to 11-0 with a victory over Charlotte.
Center Roy Hibbert added 18 points and 11 rebounds as Indiana overcame an off night from Paul George, who had 10 points.
SUNS 116, KINGS 107
PHOENIX — Goran Dragic scored 29 points, fellow guard Eric Bledsoe had a career-high 28 and Phoenix extended its season-high winning streak to four games.
The Suns’ Miles Plumlee had two crucial blocks of DeMarcus Cousins’ shots and had four emphatic fourth-quarter dunks for 12 points.
JAZZ 103, NUGGETS 93
DENVER — Gordon Hayward scored a season-high 30 points to go with a career-high 13 rebounds, Derrick Favors had 19 points and Utah rallied after blowing a big third-quarter lead to beat Denver.
Wilson Chandler and Jordan Hamilton had 17 apiece for the Nuggets.
By wire sources
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