Russell Westbrook's 36 Points Not Enough as Lakers Beat Thunder

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2018

Los Angeles Lakers center Brook Lopez, top left, shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon, 108-104, spoiling a 36-point, nine-assist effort from Russell Westbrook.

Brook Lopez (20 points, five rebounds), Julius Randle (19 points, six boards) and Jordan Clarkson (18 points off the bench) led the way for Los Angeles, while Paul George added 26 points and seven rebounds for Oklahoma City. Carmelo Anthony had a quiet afternoon on the offensive end, meanwhile, managing just 10 points, but he was active on the glass with 13 boards.

The Lakers nearly blew a 10-point lead in the final minute, as the Thunder cut the deficit to three with 24 seconds remaining. But the Lakers (21-31) held on, handing the Thunder (30-24) their fourth straight loss.  

Magic Johnson was pleased with his team's victory: 

Josh Hart, in the starting lineup with Lonzo Ball still out of action due to a sprained MCL, chipped in 14 points and 11 rebounds. His addition to the starting five has made a difference, according to Lakers beat reporter Mike Trudell: 

The Lakers, who came into the game shooting an NBA-worst 32.6 percent on three-point shots, finished 13-of-30 (43.3 percent) from beyond the arc. They held a major advantage in that regard, as OKC—which came in shooting 35 percent from deep, tied for 26th—went just 7-of-25 from three.

Both teams also played sloppy basketball, with the Lakers turning it over 19 times and the Thunder adding 17 turnovers of their own. The Thunder were also hit with four technical fouls. The turnovers, however, almost cost the Lakers the win.

The Lakers appeared to put the game away with 1:08 remaining after Anthony's pull-up jumper—which would have cut the Lakers' lead to six—was blocked by Ingram, who then snagged the ball out of the air and found a streaking Randle for a breakaway dunk that gave L.A. a 10-point lead.

But a quick bucket from Westbrook and a turnover on the other end that led to a George stuff immediately cut the deficit to six. The Thunder then forced another turnover on the inbounds pass, only to see George's wild three-point attempt miss badly. 

Ingram was fouled on the Lakers' next possession but missed both free-throw attempts. George then sunk a three to make it a one-possession game before Randle made one of two at the free-throw line to extend the lead to four.

Westbrook missed a long three at the other end, the Lakers pulled down the rebound and were able to run out the clock, overcoming a shaky finish. It wasn't pretty, but any win over OKC has added value for the Lakers in their pursuit of George this summer: 

For the Thunder, meanwhile, the loss of Andre Roberson has been a major factor, per Royce Young of ESPN.com: 

It won't be long until these teams see one another again, as the Lakers host the Thunder on Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. ET. 

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