The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder to wrap up regular-season play before the All-Star break, and OKC needed a fourth-quarter comeback to escape with a 107-103 win.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points in the second half on his way to a game-high 43. He added 12 rebounds, seven assists and three steals for good measure. Serge Ibaka tallied 10 points, seven boards and five blocks.
Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman notched 19 points apiece to lead the Lakers. Kendall Marshall continued to be a revelation with 17 assists, 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Lakers opened up a 54-45 lead at the half, and it was the first time all season the Thunder had trailed for an entire first half, according to TNT's telecast. The Thunder shot 29 percent in the first quarter. L.A. led by 15 points inside the last minute of the third quarter, but it was tied up six minutes later.
Then Durant led the takeover and the Lakers lineup was powerless to stop it.
The Lakers committed nine turnovers in the first six minutes of the fourth as their lead evaporated. All eight Lakers who played had at least one turnover as the team lost 23 in total. They had the best team in the NBA scrambling, but ultimately, the league's best scorer won out.
Player grades start at a C+ for a decent overall performance. That increases and decreases based on the quality of each player's contributions. (We'll put role players on the grading curve.) Instead of gold stars and frowning faces, here are grades for every player.
Thunder Player Grades
Kevin Durant, Small Forward
Kevin Durant scored 10 points in the first quarter. The rest of the team had scored seven points. When he only added two more in the second quarter, it started to seem like it might not be OKC's night.
Then the "Durantula" came out. The would-be MVP poured in the points from all over the floor and finished with 43 points on the night. He approached a triple-double with his unselfishness and double-digit rebounding, and it was impressive to watch him turn it on at the end. He's earned that weekend in New Orleans.
Durant also weighed in after the game on the perceived "back and forth" with LeBron James this season. He sees it another way, which is precisely what an MVP would do.
Durant asked about 'back-and-forth' between heim/LeBron this yr. KD: "There's no back-and-forth. I haven't said anything. Just him talking."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 14, 2014
And props to KD for his touching tribute to a family member.
Kevin Durant is wearing these shoes tonight, in honor of his Aunt Pearl: pic.twitter.com/JiyrqPT4YX— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 14, 2014
Serge Ibaka, Power Forward
Serge Ibaka is also called "Iblocka" for a good reason, and he threw a one-man block party in L.A. Serge swatted five shots in the game, swooping in like a predatory bird on multiple occasions.
Ibaka did not make a huge impact on offense, but he still managed 10 points. A couple of needless fouls down the stretch could have proved costly, but the Thunder prevailed to preserve the status quo.
Reggie Jackson, Point Guard
Though he could not even begin to approach the gaudy assist totals of the point starting opposite him, Jackson was one of the few OKC players who provided some offense besides Durant. Jackson put down 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, but he only handed out three assists.
Thabo Sefolosha, Shooting Guard
Sefolosha did the usual little-bit-of-everything routine and snagged three steals in a game rife with turnovers. He supplemented that with seven points, four boards and three dimes.
Kendrick Perkins, Center
I understand that there may be rotational reasons for continuing to start Perkins at center, but sometimes it's almost like playing with four players. Perkins had four points, four fouls and two blocks in 17 minutes, alongside a minus-9 rating.
Scott Brooks just pulled Kendrick Perkins, who has 4 PF's in his 17 minutes, w/Lamb and Durant at the 3/4. LAL still up 11.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 14, 2014
Rest of Bench
Jeremy Lamb experienced some struggles from the field (3-of-10 shooting), but he still turned in a double-digit night on 11 points and netted four steals as well. He also fouled out for some reason.
Derek Fisher was another member of OKC's three-steals club. He hit some timely shots to aid the comeback effort, including the game-tying triple at the 6:47 mark.
I stand corrected. Derek Fisher's clutch shooting again helping the Lakers compete in June.....in the NBA Draft— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 14, 2014
Steven Adams is getting set for the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday (9 p.m. on TNT). Maybe that's why he didn't really do much with two rebounds in eight minutes.
Nick Collison didn't score, but he did hand out three assists and actually played some nice defense on Chris Kaman, which was important at the time.
Andre Roberson's four points made him the only bench player other than Lamb or Fisher to score.
Lakers Player Grades
The Lakers did not dress five players due to injury: Pau Gasol (groin), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), Nick Young (knee), Jodie Meeks (hamstring) and Jodie Meeks (ankle). That's in addition to inactives Kobe Bryant (knee) and Xavier Henry (knee). Of course, OKC is still without Russell Westbrook (knee), but at least that team's best player is still healthy.
And it's only set to get worse for the Lakers this season.
Mitch: "If you’re asking me if we’ll pick up somebody that will help us this year, I think that’s probably not the approach we’re taking."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 14, 2014
Chris Kaman, Center
Kaman tried doing a Joakim Noah impression by coming within the neighborhood of a triple-double. He ended with 19 points, 10 boards and six dimes. After all, someone on the Lakers has to get those stats. Mercifully, he refrained from taking 20-plus shots after putting up at least 23 field-goal attempts in each of his last two games.
Heady pass by Kaman. AK— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) February 14, 2014
Kaman also put a series of moves on Ibaka to get under the hoop, then get him in the air and draw contact on the layup. Too bad he bricked the free throw that would have tied it with 22 seconds to play.
Kendall Marshall, Point Guard
Marshall briefly forgot that he's a pass-first point guard and scored 10 first-quarter points. Then he remembered that he's a pass-first point guard and dished 15 assists...before the third quarter had ended.
Mike D'Antoni is really something on offense, huh? Marshall was another Laker near a triple-double and missed it by three rebounds.
Steve Blake, Shooting Guard
Steve Blake was having a quiet game, but he riled the crowd when he drew contact from Lamb and connected on the and-one from 18 feet. He completed the three-point play and returned a 95-94 lead to the Lakers with 3:34 remaining. Blake finished with 13 points, two assists and two steals.
Wesley Johnson, Small Forward
Wes Johnson helped keep L.A. in front with his 10-point third quarter. The Lakers don't have any consistent scorers healthy at the moment, but they still have several guys of Johnson's caliber who can have a small outburst at any time.
Shawne Williams, Power Forward
Shawne Williams has a 10-day contract that is set to expire. He came correct with 13 first-half points and a pair of blocks. He just missed a double-double with nine rebounds, and considering the list of injuries, the Lakers should probably keep him around.
Rest of Bench
Jordan Hill came up with another double-digit scoring effort in effective minutes. Ryan Kelly had just three points over his last two games, so his seven-point night was a breakout.
Robert Sacre did some good things on the court, but he also managed to fumble away four turnovers in 11 minutes.
After All-Star weekend, the Lakers get back to regular-season play on Feb. 19 at home against the Houston Rockets. The Thunder will breathe a sigh of relief and return a day later and host the Miami Heat.