The Lakers were coming off of one of their worst losses of the year to the Indiana Pacers. On the tail end of a back-to-back, the Lakers found themselves down by 30 halfway through the game.
The Lakers looked to redeem themselves against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that has finally hit their stride with the return of Kevin Durant and the superb play of their superstar point guard Russell Westbrook.
The 8-17 Lakers would look to take advantage of Durant missing the game with a sprained ankle. However, defending the point guard position has been an issue in the first 25 games of the season. Byron Scott would have to construct a concrete game plan for one of the best in the league in Westbrook.
Westbrook went right at Ronnie Price early on, but failed to convert on the post-up opportunity. Price started off hot hitting his first bucket on a pull-up from 15 feet on the left baseline. Serge Ibaka spotted up and knocked down a long two to tie the game shortly after. Westbrook started off sloppy, but managed to hit two free throws before Ed Davis rolled to the basket for a dunk. Price found himself open from beyond the arc on the next possession and buried a three. He would pull up again from deep to drain his second in a row to put the Lakers up 12-4 with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. Price hit his third three of the period tying a season high with 11 points. Westbrook started tallying off points as the Thunder made a run, but Davis scored on a layup. Price kept the superstar honest as he connected on his fourth three in under 12 minutes of play. Substitutions came in for both teams as both sides cooled off towards the end of the period. However, with a minutes left, Jeremy Lin scored four straight points as the Lakers would lead 26-20 after one quarter.
Nick Young started off the second quarter with a three per usual to put the Lakers up by nine. The second unit of the Lakers with Lin, Young, Ellington, Boozer, and Sacre seemed more poised than the OKC bench. Boozer hit a fade away from the left baseline, but Reggie Jackson would score on two consecutive possessions. Ellington would hit a three to keep the pressure on the Thunder. Jordan Hill would re-enter the game as Boozer made one of two free throws for the second straight possession. Hill made a great play on the offensive glass that set Young up for a score off of a set-play on the inbound. The Thunder would create a turnover and Jackson finished on a dunk to cut the lead to four with six minutes to go in the half. Hill remained productive scoring on a jumper to beat the shot clock to give Kobe his fourth assist of the game. While Westbrook only had two field goals after 20 minutes, he added 11 free throws in that time span. He would find Jackson for a three to tie the game on the next possession, but Hill would add two foul shots of his own to reestablish the lead. Davis made a statement by dunking on the shot blocker Ibaka and Kobe would hit a fade away in the paint, but Westbrook continued to dissect the Lakers defense. The Thunder took the lead with 30 seconds remaining in the half. They would keep it that way as the score was 52-50 after two periods.
The Lakers started the quarter methodically by isolating Kobe. He would go to the charity stripe to make one of two free throws. The Lakers bigs found out that they must account for Ibaka’s ability to stretch the floor as he knocked down a three from the top of the key. Ibaka would have to respect Hill as well after he would hit an outside jumper of his own and Wes Johnson would beat the shot clock to tie the game with four minutes gone by. The Thunder would score four straight before Hill made a hook inside. The Lakers had success inside in the third period as Davis would score, and Kobe would earn his seventh point on a double move in the paint. On defense, Davis came up with a huge block and was rewarded on the other end for the alley-oop to cut the Thunder lead to one. Out of a timeout, Westbrook scored his 25th point of the night, but Kobe would find Johnson for a three to tie the game at 68. After a Thunder score, Boozer attacked the cup for a layup. The Thunder bench would proceed to score nine straight points before Young buried a long three-pointer. However, the Thunder drilled a three to make the score 82-73 in favor of OKC.
Once again Young got things going to begin the period as he knocked down another three-pointer. However, on the other end Young hit Steven Adams in the throat area which was ruled an automatic ejection on a flagrant 2. Adams missed both free throws, but the Thunder would score inside to extend their lead to eight. Lin began to attack the rim and earned a trip to the foul line to add two points to his total of eight for the game. After a turnover, Lin found Ellington at the top of the arc the Lakers 10th three of the night. The score was 86-82 with 9:22 left in the game. Both teams would trade baskets and Lin would drive and find Boozer to bring the Lakers within two. Lin remained in attack mode and scored his 10th point on a jumper to tie the game. On the next Lakers possession Lin kicked it out to Ellington yet again for another triple to take the lead. After a Westbrook bucket, Davis cleaned up a Boozer miss for his season-high 16th point to make the score 93-90 Lakers. Two Jackson foul shots would narrow the gap, but Davis followed another shot for his 18th point and ninth board of the contest. A Thunder free throw and a Westbrook layup gave OKC the lead with four minutes left in the game. Boozer made a layup of his own to retake the lead, but Jackson scored his 23rd point to make the score 98-97 Thunder. As the shot clock was expiring, Kobe hit his third field goal of the game, but Ibaka again stretched the floor to hit an outside two. The Lakers regained the lead with a Boozer layup off a Kobe assist, but the Thunder went right back in front on a pair of free throws from Jackson with one minute remaining. Kobe badly missed a jumper and Westbrook hit another midrange shot to give the Thunder a three-point lead. Lin hit a tough fadeaway to bring the Lakers within a point and the Lakers got a stop on the other end. The Thunder had a foul to give and committed it with 6.3 seconds remaining to give the Lakers one last shot for the win. Kobe Bryant had a decent look but it came up short as the Lakers fell 104-103.
VIDEO: Nick Young Ejected, Rips Steve Adams After The Game