ESPN’s Royce Young observed inside the 6:00 mark: “Lakers on a 13-2 run to go up three. This is the part where Kevin Durant would be hitting a cold-blooded 3 to calm everything back down.” But Kevin Durant wasn’t there, awaiting further inspection of his ankle sprain from last night in Oakland; Kendrick Perkins wasn’t there, either, hobbled by some sort of contusion. The only saving grace: Nick Young, who’d been a pain in the first half, was tossed in the third quarter with a Flagrant Two against Steven Adams. (Then again, Adams bricked the free throws.) Still, Adams provided a very nice pick for Russell Westbrook with 38 seconds left to put OKC up 104-101. Jeremy Lin came back with a bucket, the Thunder came up empty, and Kobe Bryant (who else?) went for the last shot. Andre Roberson wasn’t buying, and that’s the final: 104-103. Roberson was on Kobe pretty much all night, and Bryant finished with 9 points on 3-14 shooting. (Roberson, not known for his offense, dropped in 10 and secured 7 boards.)
Contributing factors: Reggie Jackson, who’d had a few rough outings, smoothed it out tonight, going 9-15 for 25 points. Westbrook had an almost-routine 31 with 10 assists; Adams finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds. Serge Ibaka checked in with 16 points and five blocks. And Nick Collison, who got the minutes Perk would have, wound up with a Perkesque four points and seven boards.
Ed Davis led the Lakers with 18; Ronnie Price and Carlos Boozer added 14 each; Young had 10 before being thumbed. That last shot of Lin’s gave him 12. And give Kobe credit: he was working the ball as much as he could, grabbing eight rebounds and serving up eight assists. Your Number Three All-Time Scorer is still plenty viable, thank you very much.
So 2-1 on the road trip. It could have been worse. The Pelicans, one game ahead of the Thunder for 8th in the East, will be coming to the ‘Peake Sunday evening; the Trail Blazers, way out front in the Northwest, arrive Tuesday; and then a Christmas matinee in San Antonio. Interesting week, and not in an easy-peasy way.