Lakers continue their dominance over the West-leading Thunder

Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

At this stage, the scenarios are all easy to identify.

To have the best chance at avoiding a pair of road play-in games, the Lakers need to win. To give themselves some hope of a home play-in game, they need to win. And for the loftiest goal — a spot inside the top of the six spots in the West — the Lakers need to win.

A lot.

And Monday’s performance made all paths for the Lakers seem possible.

With LeBron James flying around on defense, with Austin Reaves impacting the game on both ends, with Anthony Davis dominating the basket and D’Angelo Russell making all kinds of different plays, the Lakers looked like a menace.

In a 116-104 win against the West-leading Thunder, the Lakers were dominant, flustering Oklahoma City for all bit the smallest stretches.

James split up a lob to Chet Holmgren at the rim, Reaves harassed MVP-candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Russell kicked off the fourth by poking the ball loose and creating a transition opportunity.

The Thunder, playing on the second night of a tough back-to-back, opened hot — not the kind of start the Lakers were hoping for after losing to Denver on Saturday.


The Lakers trailed 20-8 a little more than halfway through the first quarter, but for the first time since before the All-Star break, they responded with the kind of defensive ferocity that defined their late-season run a year ago.

Over the next 17 minutes or so, Oklahoma City scored just 23 points as the Lakers were at their absolute best.

Some slippage early in the second half quickly resolved itself before Russell slammed the door on the Thunder by hitting a trio of consecutive threes with comically escalating degrees of difficulty.

James, who was named a conference player of the week for a record 68th time earlier in the day, scored only 19 points, but he grabbed 11 rebounds and had eight assists.

Russell finished with 26, Davis added 24 points and 12 rebounds and Reaves scored 16 on eight shot attempts, along with six rebounds and seven assists.

The Thunder’s 104 points were the fewest allowed by the Lakers since Jan. 7. It’s also the Lakers’ third-straight win over Oklahoma City, a team they very conceivably could face in the first round of the playoffs.


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