Thunder Hang Tight but Fall to Lakers, 101-94

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:09 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Jan 17, 2011 11:20 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES -- Fans of both teams certainly got their money’s worth on Monday night, but the Lakers are the defending champions for a reason.

Despite the Thunder’s best efforts, Los Angeles was able to sneak by with a 101-94 victory over OKC on Monday night.

Oklahoma City was able to overcome adversity and several big Laker runs to keep it close, but couldn’t close the gap enough in the end.

The Laker defense stifled the Thunder’s scorers all night, forcing them into 2-of-22 shooting (9 percent) from 3-point range.

Russell Westbrook was the only player that seemed completely comfortable for the Thunder, exploiting matchups against Derek Fisher and Steve Blake to finish with 32 points and 12 assists.

Los Angeles jumped out to a six-point lead early in the first quarter, but OKC responded to take a lead of its own. However, the score was knotted at 28 at the end of the first.

Oklahoma City’s biggest lead of the night (six) came on a dunk from Nick Collison just more than two minutes into the second quarter.

L.A. held a three-point lead at the half before exploding to start the third. It went on a 13-0 run shortly into the third quarter to blow the game open.

But the Thunder battled back, putting together a 14-2 run of their own to climb back into the game.

After another set of Laker runs, the Thunder closed the gap to four on a Serge Ibaka layup with 2:09 to play. But OKC’s poor shooting doomed them in the end as the Lakers hit their free throws to close it out.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 21 points and seven assists, and forward Pau Gasol added 21 to go with seven boards.

Kevin Durant struggled for the Thunder, similar to his first two playoff games in L.A. in 2010. Ron Artest was able to shut Durant down again and hold him to 24 points on 8-of-24 shooting, including 1-of-8 from 3.

Meanwhile, L.A.’s team statistics blew the Thunder’s out of the water as the Lakers short exactly 50 percent from both the floor and 3-point range.

Oklahoma City will look to rebound against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.