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Lonzo Ball's OT Game-Tying Layup Blocked as Kevin Durant, Warriors Beat Lakers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks to pass the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 18, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images

Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors put a damper on Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony for the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans Monday with a 116-114 overtime victory at Staples Center.  

Durant drilled a Kobe-like game-winner over Lonzo Ball with six seconds remaining in overtime and led the way with 36 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks despite shooting just 10-of-29 from the field as his team won its ninth straight.

Los Angeles dropped to 10-18 with a third straight loss but battled against the defending champions and had the opportunity to win with a missed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope buzzer-beater in regulation and tie it with a Ball layup in overtime—which David West swatted.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

KD sinks the game-winner and David West gets the block on Lonzo 👀 https://t.co/vuYCBvzbD8

Kyle Kuzma spearheaded the Lakers' effort on the night Bryant's Nos. 8 and 24 were forever retired into the rafters with 25 points, while Ball added 16 points, six assists and six rebounds.

               

Durant Overcomes Shooting Woes in Biggest Moment

The Warriors were fighting an uphill battle from the beginning, considering Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle), Draymond Green (right shoulder soreness), Shaun Livingston (right knee soreness) and Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder soreness) were all out.

That put the onus on Durant, which hasn't been a problem, as he averaged 33.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in the previous four games without Curry.

While his shot abandoned him for most of Monday's contest, he poured in 12 points and connected on two three-pointers in overtime with the game hanging in the balance. He also found a way to impact the outcome in other ways before he found his scoring touch, challenging for a triple-double and facilitating much of the offense with the ball in his hands.

Durant wasn't alone in his shooting woes, as Klay Thompson finished an abysmal 6-of-24 from the field and 4-of-13 from deep for 17 points, and he failed to establish a rhythm after picking up two fouls in the opening 90 seconds.

Like Durant, he thrived in other areas and grabbed 10 rebounds while playing shutdown defense for extended stretches.

There were ugly offensive moments from both All-Stars, but it is a testament to their overall ability and Durant's tendency to come through in the biggest moments that they were still able to secure the win.

             

Young Lakers Battle in Front of Kobe

It was easy to forget there was an actual game at times for the current Lakers, given the fanfare surrounding the halftime ceremony.

Bryant's numbers were forever immortalized as president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, owner Jeanie Buss and the Black Mamba himself gave speeches. Johnson went as far as to call the guest of honor "the greatest who ever wore the Purple and Gold."

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Forever immortalized 🐍 #Ko8e24 https://t.co/qB3HaO9rRs

Bryant—a five-time champion, league MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 15-time All-NBA member, 18-time All-Star and two-time scoring champion—thanked his family and the fans and provided the "Mamba out" exclamation point.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Mamba Out ✌️🐍 https://t.co/B8DCjFbe2k

The rebuilding Lakers are looking to eventually reach the heights of Bryant's prime in the future, and some of the young pieces flashed their potential at various moments.

Larry Nance Jr. did so with arguably the dunk of the year as he victimized Durant with a tomahawk:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

OH MY, LARRY NANCE JR. ! https://t.co/WN6XUsLBpN

Julius Randle had a rude welcome for Durant as well:

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Julius Randle 💪 look out below! #LakeShow (📺: @SpectrumSN, @spectdeportes, NBA TV) https://t.co/FCX51e1uXj

Elsewhere, Ball and Brandon Ingram provided reason for optimism with their clutch play. Ingram's shot in the final 30 seconds of regulation forced overtime, while Ball sliced through the lane and gave Los Angeles a late lead in the extra period before Durant won it.

It was still a loss, but it was easy to envision Ball, Ingram (19 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Kuzma competing against the best the league has to offer for years to come.

It won't get easier with a road game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday before a Friday rematch with Golden State. The Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday before another shot at Los Angeles.

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