LATE THUNDER SINK LAKERS
LA LAKERS 103
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 107
Kevin Durant scored 19 of his 43 points in the fourth quarter yesterday morning (Singapore time) as Oklahoma City dealt the injury-hit Los Angeles Lakers a franchise-worst seventh straight NBA home defeat.
Durant added 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals to help the Thunder go into the league's All-Star break on a high note with a 107-103 win.
"It gives us a good feeling going into the break," said Durant, whose Thunder improved to 43-12 and hold a 1½ game lead over Indiana for the best record in the league.
Durant, who received his fifth All-Star call-up, will be the Thunder's only participant in the mid-season exhibition.
Reggie Jackson added 16 points, Derek Fisher scored 12 and Serge Ibaka finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and five blocks for the Thunder.
The injury-ravaged Lakers, meanwhile, fell to 18-35, tied with Sacramento for the worst record in the Western Conference.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni praised his team's effort, but admitted they were looking forward to the All-Star break to rest and regroup.
The Lakers won't have a player in the All-Star game in New Orleans on Monday morning (Singapore time), a first since the 1995-96 season.
Superstar Kobe Bryant was voted a starter, despite playing only six games this season, but is unable to play as he recovers from a broken bone in his left knee.
The Lakers' veteran point-guard Steve Nash was sidelined yesterday after aggravating the nerve problem in his back that saw him miss 39 games this season.
Spanish big man Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Xavier Henry were also sidelined by injuries.
Given the stream of injuries that has plagued the team, D'Antoni said his remaining players were coping well with the increased demands on them.
The Lakers led 24-17 after the first quarter and 54-45 at half-time. But D'Antoni said 23 turnovers and too many missed free throws doomed them even more than Durant's late surge.
D'Antoni was delighted that the Lakers limited league-leading scorer Durant to 14-of-33 from the floor.
"That's great defence," D'Antoni said. "Any time he shoots under 50 per cent, that's good. He got loose a couple of times, but that's not where we got beat. We got beat turning it over and not making foul shots.
"We're looking forward to the break and we'll have four guys at least coming back and that will help a lot." - AFP.
We're looking forward to the break and we'll have four guys at least coming back and that will help a lot.
- LA Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni
OTHER RESULT:Chicago Bulls 92 Brooklyn Nets 76 NBA