Connect to share and comment
U.S. Sports Desk, Mar 6 (EFE).- The Oklahoma City Thunder used their youth, athleticism and unselfishness play to overwhelm the veteran-laden Los Angeles Lakers, running away with the contest in the fourth quarter for a 122-105 win.
After learning that power forward Serge Ibaka would not be suspended for punching Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin in the groin two days earlier, the Thunder showed once again during Tuesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena that they have more firepower than the Lakers when at full strength.
Called "old" and "slow" earlier this season by their star, Kobe Bryant, the Lakers trailed 71-55 at halftime and, despite, a strong third quarter, were outgunned down the stretch.
The biggest mismatch was at the point guard position, with Thunder sparkplug Russell Westbrook making it clear with his 37-point, 10-rebound performance that 39-year-old, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash's days as a star are over.
Westbrook spread out his points evenly throughout the contest, scoring 19 in the first half and 18 over the final two quarters.
The Lakers outscored the Thunder 34-26 in the third quarter and eventually reduced the deficit to just five points, but Oklahoma City sealed the victory with a 12-0 run over the final 6:13.
During that final push, Ibaka hit a big 3-pointer, Thunder superstar Kevin Durant made two free throws and Westbrook scored after stripping the ball from Bryant to put the game out of reach.
Like Westbrook, Durant had an all-around game with 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Thunder also played solid defense on the Lakers, holding their opponents to just 40 percent shooting from the field.
Ibaka, who was fined $25,000 for his low blow in Sunday's game against the Clippers, added 13 points and had no incident with Bryant, who had said he would have smacked the Thunder player in the mouth if he, instead of Griffin, had been on the receiving end of the punch.
Bryant scored 30 points for the Lakers but only 12 in the second half, when he was struggling with an injured right elbow.
Despite his woes on the defensive end, Nash contributed offensively with 20 points, while Metta World Peace added 16 and power forward Earl Clark notched a double-double with 13 points - all but one in the first half - and 11 rebounds.
The Lakers' center, Dwight Howard, had a dreadful night offensively, scoring just six points and making only one field goal, although he did haul down 16 rebounds.
With the loss, the Lakers fell one game below .500 at 30-31 and continue to trail the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Thunder improved their record to 44-16.
In other action Tuesday in the NBA, the Boston Celtics topped the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101 and the Denver Nuggets defeated the Sacramento Kings 120-113.