The Los Angeles Lakers have played their best basketball recently, matching their longest win streak of the season with their third consecutive win on Friday night. They looked to continue that high level of play as they played a short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder squad.
With both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook missing the game due to injury, the Thunder would look towards Serge Ibaka to lead their team as they continue to fight for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. New additions Enes Kanter and D.J. Augustin would also need to step up.
The Lakers back court of Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington has played well lately and would look to continue that strong play against a Thunder team with a lot to play for. The Lakers came into the game at 16-41 while the Thunder were 32-27.
The Thunder went straight to the post as Enes Kanter got an easy layup to start the game. Jordan Clarkson matched with a layup on the other end for the Lakers. The Thunder got off to a quick start as Andre Roberson hit back-to-back threes to go ahead 9-2. The Lakers began to fight back and an Ellington layup cut the Thunder lead to four, but Serge Ibaka hit a nice hook shot to keep the Thunder six point cushion. Transition baskets from Roberson and Dion Waiters gave Oklahoma City a nine point lead midway through the quarter. The Lakers offense continued to struggle as Ibaka gave the Thunder a 12-point lead with a mid-range jumper. Clarkson hit a deep three, but D.J. Augustin matched him on the other end. A short jumper from Wesley Johnson and a layup from Clarkson at the buzzer cut the OKC lead to nine at the end of the first quarter, 28-19.
The Lakers kept up their momentum from the end of the first as Lin and Davis got baskets that brought the Lakers within five early in the quarter. The Thunder quickly responded however as Jeremy Lamb and Nick Collison converted consecutive three-point plays. The Lakers would come right back with a 6-0 run of their own capped by a layup from Ellington to cut the OKC deficit back to five. Anthony Morrow hit a three for the Thunder and Ellington made a beautiful play, hitting Ed Davis for a dunk as the Lakers still trailed by six. The teams began trading baskets as Davis got a couple of dunks and Johnson hit a three, but the Morrow and Lamb got a couple of baskets keeping the Thunder ahead by three. Another Johnson three capped a 10-2 run to tie the game, but Kanter knocked down a jumper to put OKC right back in front. An Ibaka hook shot and two free throws put OKC ahead by six as the first half began to wind down. Ellington cut the lead to three, but Augustin had a layup and a crazy three-pointer at the buzzer to put OKC back ahead by eight at halftime.
The Thunder started the second half strong with jumpers from Ibaka and Augustin to push the Thunder lead back to double digits. Ryan Kelly hit a jumper to get the Lakers on the board in the quarter, but they still trailed by 10. Ellington kept the Lakers in the game with a three and an assist to Boozer as the Lakers got back within seven. Sacre cut the lead to five with a floater, but back-to-back threes from Augustin and Singler gave OKC another double-digit lead. A tough floater from Singler got OKC’s lead to 13, but the Lakers refused to go down quietly, cutting it back down to eight behind a Kelly three and Sacre hook. Another Kelly three got the Lakers back within five, but the Lakers got multiple chances on their next possession which resulted in a Collison three-point play. Waiters hit a tough layup to keep the Thunder ahead by 10, but Hill responded with his own jumper to keep the Lakers in striking distance. An easy layup from Collison and a putback from Ibaka gave the Thunder a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 84-72.
Lin was the catalyst for the Lakers early with free throws and a layup, but the Lakers remained down by 10. Hill hit an open jumper, but Collison got a put-back to keep the Thunder ahead by double-digits. Another layup and a jumper from Lin cut the deficit to six, but Waiters responded with a layup of his own. Jeremy Lamb had in impressive block on Ellington and then took the ball all the way down for a three-point play as the Thunder remained ahead by nine. Lamb hit a big three pointer, but the Lakers kept fighting behind Lin and Hill and were down nine midway through the fourth. Lamb hit another three to give the Thunder a 14 point lead before Clarkson matched him on the other end with a three of his own. Ibaka stuffed Hill at the rim and hit a jumper on the other end to give the Thunder what looked like an insurmountable 12 point lead with under three minutes left. Lin hit a three but the Lakers remained behind by double digits as the clock ticked down. The Lakers had a couple of chances to cut into the lead but couldn’t make the shots. Clarkson got a steal and dunk, but the points were meaningless at that stage of the game. Hill made a three-pointer, the first of his career, but it was with less than 10 seconds left and the Lakers would fall 108-101.
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