Lakers’ calm the Thunder in Los Angeles

By James Williams

The Los Angeles Lakers rallied back from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-106 in double overtime at the Staples Center on Sunday.

After trailing the Thunder after the first three quarters and down 16 points entering the 4th quarter, the Lakers outscored the Thunder 30-14 in the final quarter of regulation, forcing the game into overtime.

In his second game back since his shin injury, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant scored 26 points to go along with his eight assists and six rebounds.

Forward Kevin Durant led the Thunder to a comfortable lead for the three quarters before the Lakers’ surge of energy and effort took the game over.

Durant finished with 35 points with eight rebounds and three assists.

Durant’s 35 points put him ahead of Bryant in both players’ chase for a third scoring title with only a game or two left to play.

Forward Serge Ibaka scored 18 points with 14 rebounds for the Thunder.

The Lakers could have confidence heading into the playoffs if they continue the way they played in the 4th quarter and into both overtime periods with a lineup of Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks.

The success the Lakers’ lineup late in the game kept usual players like starting center Andrew Bynum on the bench.

Bynum scored 10 points along with eight rebounds and one assist. “The coach made the right decision and we won the game” Bynum said afterward.

Hill, who only played 17 minutes total since joining the Lakers, logged 39 minutes against the Thunder.

Taking advantage of the playing time, Hill scored 14 points with 15 rebounds for a double-double performance.

Hill was acquired by the Lakers at the trade deadline in a deal that sent guard Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers outscored the Thunder by 27 points in Hill’s 35 minutes of playing time. There was also some shuffling around with the lineups on both team’s after forward Metta World Peace was ejected from the game.

World Peace threw an elbow to the back of Thunder guard James Harden’s head. Harden fell to the ground for several moments before getting back up and heading into the locker room.

After being evaluated by Lakers doctors, Harden was cleared to return after halftime but before he made it back to the Thunder’s bench, he was sent back to the locker room after speaking with an assistant coach. Harden did not return to the game.

After the game, Harden was diagnosed with a concussion and will need to pass a series of test before getting back onto the court.

World Peace is likely to be suspended for the last game of the regular season and a few games in the first round of the playoffs.

With the win, the Lakers remain third in the Western Conference and half a game ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers end the regular season against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.

The Thunder will play games on back-to-back nights to end the regular season, facing the Sacramento Kings and Denver Nuggets.


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