Durant’s 43 help Thunder beat Lakers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 19 of his 43 points in the fourth quarter and the Oklahoma City Thunder sent the undermanned Los Angeles Lakers to a record-setting seventh straight home loss with a 107-103 victory on Thursday night.
The Thunder have a 1-game lead on Indiana for the NBA’s best record. Their 43-12 mark has equaled the best start in the franchise’s 47-year history, set by the 1995-96 Seattle Supersonics.
Chris Kaman and Wesley Johnson scored 19 points apiece for Los Angeles, and Kendall Marshall added 14 points and 17 assists. The Lakers have lost 22 of their last 27 games and are tied with Sacramento for last place in the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City is 20-7 without second-leading scorer Russell Westbrook, who hasn’t played since getting a triple-double on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden. Westbrook is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Forward Serge Ibaka had 10 points and seven rebounds after averaging 17.9 points over his previous 16 games.
The Thunder, coming off a 98-95 win against Portland in which they held All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard to a combined 1-for-17 from the field in the second half, trailed by as many as 15 points late in the third quarter. But Durant’s first 3-pointer of the game cut the Lakers’ lead to 85-77 in the opening minute of the fourth, triggering a 15-2 run that enabled Oklahoma City to pull ahead 92-87 with 5:46 to play.
Los Angeles committed seven of its 23 turnovers during the first 4:03 of the final period, and former Laker Derek Fisher tied it at 87-all on a 3-pointer. Durant then stole the ball from Johnson and hit a driving layup that gave the Thunder their first lead, 89-87. The five-time All-Star capped the rally with a 3-pointer 32 seconds later.
Steve Blake responded with a three-point play after getting fouled by Jeremy Lamb on an off-balance 20-footer from the left elbow. That put the Lakers back in front 95-94 with 3:34 left, but Ibaka’s two free throws put the Thunder ahead to stay with 2:38 remaining and they closed with an 11-7 run as Fisher and Durant each made two free throws in the final 17 seconds.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was down to eight healthy players, with point guard Steve Nash sitting out because of a recurrence of root irritation in his back and hamstring. Los Angeles is still missing five of its top six scorers — Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Xavier Henry.
The Lakers came out of the gate like a team that desperately wanted to avoid surpassing the franchise record for consecutive home losses they shared with the 1992-93 squad.
Marshall, starting at point guard in Nash’s place, led Los Angeles to a 24-17 lead after one quarter with 10 points, and Shawne Williams matched his total in the second quarter to help the Lakers take a 54-45 halftime advantage.
NOTES: The Thunder haven’t allowed 20 or more points to an opposing player since eight games ago at Miami on Jan. 29, when they overcame 34 points by LeBron James in a 112-95 win. … Oklahoma City will come out of the All-Star break with a six-game homestand beginning next Thursday against the defending NBA champion Heat. Coach Scott Brooks and his staff will be calling the shots for the Western Conference All-Stars on Sunday at New Orleans. … Durant, who averaged 33.3 points in his previous three All-Star games as a starter, was the All-Star MVP in 2012. He led all players in the fan voting this year. … Oklahoma City has won eight of its last 12 meetings with the Lakers, including a 122-97 home victory on Dec. 13, when they converted 19 turnovers into 31 points. … Los Angeles will play back-to-back games against Oklahoma City March 9-13. … Fifteen of the Lakers’ 35 losses have been decided by seven points of fewer. … The Thunder are 37-9 when Durant leads them in scoring, and 27-6 when he gets at least 30 points. … Eleven of Oklahoma City’s league-high 43 wins have been decided by four points or fewer. … Lamb had 11 points before fouling out with 2:58 to go.