Thunder win tougher than expected battle with Lakers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Russell Westbrook had 36 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder barely survived Lou Williams’ 44-point performance for a 117-113 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Kevin Durant scored 24 points in the Thunder’s 15th victory in 18 games and their seventh straight win over the lowly Lakers, but Williams put an extraordinary scare into them.
Williams scored 23 of his career-high output in the fourth quarter for the Lakers, who avoided a third straight blowout loss to the Thunder in three weeks. Williams had all but five of the Lakers’ points during a frenetic fourth quarter.
Kobe Bryant had 19 points while playing in back-to-back games despite an ailing right shoulder, but missed a potential tying shot over Durant with 4 seconds to play.
Williams put the Lakers up 110-107 on three free throws with 1:58 to play, but Westbrook coolly got the tying three-point play and fed Steve Adams for the go-ahead dunk with 1:21 left.
After Jordan Clarkson trimmed the Thunder’s lead to 114-113 with a 3-pointer, Westbrook hit one of two free throws with 13.1 seconds to play to give a chance to the Lakers. But with fans inside Staples Center on their feet, Bryant missed a running 8-footer over Durant’s tight defense.
Clarkson added 17 points for the Lakers, who have lost three straight to drop to a Western Conference-worst 8-30. Oklahoma City beat the Lakers by a combined 75 points in two meetings last month, including a 35-point humiliation at Staples Center two weeks ago.
The Thunder led for most of this third meeting, but Williams got on a profound roll in the final minutes. The veteran guard scored 17 points in the first eight minutes of the final period while the Lakers reclaimed the lead.
Durant showed no obvious limitations in his second game back from a sprained right big toe, while Westbrook was his usual sharp self in his hometown. Westbrook attended UCLA’s victory over No. 7 Arizona one night earlier, cheering for Bryce Alford’s game-winning shot.
Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell played eight minutes and scored two points before going to the locker room for good in the second quarter. The No. 2 overall pick injured his ankle Thursday in Sacramento after scoring a career-high 27 points, and he tried to play through the discomfort before leaving.
Thunder: Oklahoma City improved to 18-3 against the West. … Durant passed Lakers great James Worthy during the third quarter for 96th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. The Hall of Famer who now works on the Lakers’ broadcast network had 16,320 career points.
Lakers: Williams had the Lakers’ first 40-point game since Bryant did it in November 2014. … Julius Randle had another rough shooting night, going 1 for 7. He also played solid defense and grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out with 2:32 to play.
Thunder: At Portland on Sunday.
Lakers: Host Utah on Sunday.
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