Thunder top Lakers 100-85, tie Miami for NBA's best record at All-Star break - Washington Post

The Thunder won their 12th straight home game and denied Los Angeles the chance to head into the midseason break with back-to-back statement wins on the road. The Lakers had won at defending NBA champion Dallas a night earlier and were trying to follow it by knocking off the other half of last year's West finals.

"It's a regular game for us," Durant said, downplaying any significance of a midseason victory.

"Of course, we respect those guys and they're champions and they've won multiple rings but it's another game for us. You're just trying to get better every single day."

Oklahoma City and Miami both have NBA-leading 27-7 records at the break. The Lakers are 20-14 and sitting in fifth place in the West.

"It's cool that we're winning games but we can't be complacent," Durant said.

"We've been on a good roll lately. We've got to just keep working hard. It's not over yet. We're glad we're going into the break with some wins but I think it's important for us to come out of the break with some energy and some momentum."

Kobe Bryant scored 24 points but went 7 for 24 from the field for Los Angeles. Pau Gasol had 22 points and nine rebounds.

The Thunder pulled away in the second half to win their second in a row against the Lakers, who won eight of the teams' previous nine regular-season meetings and knocked Oklahoma City out of the 2010 playoffs in the first round.

"They did a great job. They took advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves, jumped out to a good cushion and we could never get the game back in balance," Bryant said.

The Lakers, once able to use their size advantage against Oklahoma City, struggled to get those same inside baskets against the remade Thunder interior of NBA blocks leader Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.

Center Andrew Bynum started out 2 for 12 before finally hitting three in a row midway through the fourth quarter. His two-handed slam got the Lakers within 81-74 with 7 minutes remaining, only for Oklahoma City to come right back by scoring the next seven points on a three-point play by Westbrook and dunks by Harden and Perkins.

Los Angeles didn't get any closer than nine after that.

"Going into this game, we really wanted to keep them out of the paint, keep them away from the basket and rebound the shot," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Just give them one shot — one and done, and get out and run."

Harden scored 16 and Ibaka added 11 points and 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which limited L.A. to 39 percent shooting while making 47 percent of its own shots.

"We have to work too hard to get points going up against defenses that are set and double-teams all the time," Bryant said. "Having a little bit more movement, it'll free Andrew up, free Pau up, free myself up to where I don't have to work against two guys all the time."

24 Feb, 2012

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