The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

January 12, 2013

Thunder hands Lakers 6th-straight loss

LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant scored 42 points, Russell Westbrook had 27 points and 10 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder easily sent the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers to their sixth straight loss, 116-101 Friday night.

Kevin Martin scored 15 points and hit three 3-pointers for the Thunder, who romped to a 27-point lead in the second half of their seventh win in nine games. Oklahoma City (28-8) matched the Clippers for the NBA’s best record with a virtuoso game from Durant, who had 38 points midway through the third quarter.

Kobe Bryant scored 28 for the Lakers, on their first six-game skid since March 2007.

Antawn Jamison added 19 points as Los Angeles looked lost and overmatched in its third straight game without starting big men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

The Thunder eliminated Bryant and the Lakers from last season’s playoffs in five games, but Los Angeles has shown few signs of being able to compete with Oklahoma City this season. Injuries aren’t the only problem, but Howard likely is out for at least another week with a shoulder injury, while Gasol still hasn’t been cleared to return from his concussion.

Steve Nash had seven points and seven assists in a quiet 30 minutes for the Lakers, who announced during the second quarter that backup big man Jordan Hill likely needs season-ending surgery on his left hip. Metta World Peace added 12 points, going 1 for 9 on 3-point attempts.

The Lakers (15-21) hadn’t lost this many consecutive games since the year before they acquired Gasol and embarked on a run to three straight NBA finals. With Cleveland and Milwaukee visiting over the next four days, the Lakers have a chance to get competitive again — but they’re facing an uphill climb just to get into playoff contention.

Oklahoma City inexplicably lost to lowly Washington four days ago, but made none of the same mistakes in another meeting with a short-handed opponent. The Thunder also beat the Lakers 114-108 in Oklahoma City last month while Los Angeles was without Gasol and Nash.

The Thunder jumped to an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but Bryant led an 11-0 run to tie it heading into the second. That run was the extent of Los Angeles’ competitiveness against the defending Western Conference champions: Oklahoma City calmly reclaimed control, with Durant scoring 16 points in the quarter capped by a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left before halftime, putting the Thunder up 64-48.

Along with predictable defensive struggles against Durant and Westbrook, Los Angeles missed its first 12 3-point attempts before Nash connected midway through the third quarter. Durant scored 15 more points in the third before sitting out much of the fourth, finishing nine points shy of his career high.

Hill’s prolonged absence would be another big blow to the Lakers, who would lose one of their few reliable reserves.

The fourth-year pro is averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in his first full season with Los Angeles. He’ll get a second opinion on his hip before scheduling season-ending surgery on loose fragments and a possible labral tear.

NOTES: Before the game, Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, announced they’ve called off their divorce proceedings. Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce in December 2011. ... The teams meet again at Staples Center on Jan. 27. Oklahoma City also visits to face the Clippers on Jan. 22. ... Charlize Theron, Adam Sandler, Robin Thicke, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Mehmet Oz and Chad Johnson watched the game from courtside.

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