When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, before the NBA campaign began; many longtime observers of the Association expected the franchise would be riding high all season. The club’s fortunes have yet to match those expectations; case in point; if the regular campaign ended on Friday night, the Lakers would not be in the Post Season mix; after falling short in their comeback attempt against the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-108. Los Angeles would valiantly tried to win the contest at the Chesapeake Energy Arena; bouncing back after being down by 19 points in the third, to cut their deficit to four points with 15 seconds to play, but could not get over the hump, as the Thunder held on for the win.
Kevin Durant led the game in scoring, knocking down 36 points for the evening, while Russell Westbrook had 33 points for the night. Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant, once again attempted to win a game playing one on five ball, but his 35 points were not enough to get the win for the visitors. Howard racked up a double-double with 23 points and 18 boards, while Chris Duhon starting for the injured Steve Nash, added 14 points in the loss. The Lakers were without starting forward Pau Gasol, who was in too much pain to play, with tendonitis in both knees.
It seemed that it would be a tightly contested game after the first 12 minutes of action, as Westbrook connected on a 27-foot trey at the buzzer, cutting the Lakers lead to 27-26 at the end of the period. The home team would explode for 41 points in the second, however and walked into their locker room as the game reached the half holding a 67-53 advantage.
Oklahoma City looked as if they could coast through the rest of the night after Durant hit a nine-foot bunny, putting his team ahead 85-66 with 3:33 remaining in the third, however the Lakers would not go quietly into the night. Los Angeles fought back, getting to within four points of their opponents when Bryant buried a trey with 15 seconds to play, making it a 112-108 game with the home team hanging onto their now slim lead. However, that would be the final points of the night for the visitors as the Thunder got the win.
Oklahoma City, now has a record of 16-4 and will play host to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, while the Lakers now have a 9-11 mark and welcome the Utah Jazz to the Staples Center on Sunday.