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SPORTS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Lakers Storm Back To Top Thunder

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LOS ANGELES -

Times have been a bit rocky in Thunderland as of late, but a timely trip to visit the struggling Lakers appeared to be just what Oklahoma City needed.

At least that's how it seemed.

After building an 18-point second quarter lead, the Thunder succumbed to its most inexplicable collapse of the season thus far, falling to the lowly Lakers 114-110 in front of jubilant albeit shocked Staples Center crowd.

With the loss, the Thunder fell to 3-5 since the All-Star break and the apparent causes for the recent streak of uneven play came roaring to the forefront in Southern California.

After streaking out to a 46-28 lead capped by a Russell Westbrook fastbreak finish, the Thunder allowed an instant 12-0 L.A. run and things only snowballed from there, largely because of poor shot selection, abhorrent defense and reckless turnovers.

Despite the slip, OKC took a five-point lead into the half and retook a nine-point lead in the third quarter; then things really got out of hand.

Jodie Meeks outscored Oklahoma City by himself in the third (21-20) and spearheaded a 31-5 Laker run that leaked into the early stages of the fourth. The Thunder's one time 18-point lead turned into an 18-point deficit in 18:41 of game time.

The Thunder would make a late rally as it tends to do, closing to within 110-107 on a Westbrook tomahawk slam with 57 seconds remaining, but the team failed to get over the hump at the end.

Making the loss even worse is that it was the Lakers who delivered it.

Los Angeles is a Western Conference worst 22-42 and suffered the worst loss in the franchise's storied history just three days ago in a 48-point debacle against the Clippers.

"We're struggling," Kevin Durant said. "We want to win the game; we don't want to go out there and lose. We can't worry about people on the outside. We can't worry about (media), we can't worry about fans. It's about these guys in the locker room. We're having a tough stretch … we just have to do what we have to do to get out of it."

The obvious concern has been the Thunder's porous defense, which has been magnified in the absence of starters Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha who, despite not bringing much offensively, encompass a lot of the team's defensive identity.

Sefolosha's absence has been particularly noteworthy on the wing, as OKC has surrendered career-best 40-point performances to relatively unknown shooting guards Gerald Green and Jodie Meeks in consecutive games.

Meeks shredded the Thunder on Sunday with a game-high 42 points but the most alarmingly part was that the vast majority of Meeks' shot attempts went uncontested, allowing him to establish a rhythm that proved costly and stretched the OKC defense thin. That resulted in things opening up in the paint, where Paul Gasol and Ryan Kelly combined for 32 points and 15 rebounds.

The loss overshadowed a triple-double from Durant, who went for 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds but seemed far too passive at times, especially during the Lakers' massive second-half rally.

Westbrook had an up-and-down showing with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds but struggled mightily with eight turnovers – six of which came in the first half – and 7-of-23 shooting.

Serge Ibaka provided a bright spot with 21 points and 15 rebounds, while Reggie Jackson bounced back from recent struggles with 14 points and nine boards. Derek Fisher scored eight and finished with a team-best plus-18 plus/minus in 22 minutes.

OKC slipped a half a game behind the Spurs in the Western Conference Standings at 46-17. A tough task awaits with the Houston Rockets on deck for a 7 p.m. contest at The Peake on Tuesday.

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