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News » Lakers stifle Thunder's rally

Lakers stifle Thunder's rally

Lakers stifle Thunder's rally
As the Thunder put the finishing touches on a 25-8 run at the start of the fourth quarter Tuesday night, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's mind settled on one solitary thought.

"If I don't check in within the next two minutes I'm just not going to sleep very well tonight," Bryant said. "It's about time for me to go in and do what they ask of me to do."

And that he did.

Bryant scored 15 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Lakers to a 107-93 win over the Thunder.

When Oklahoma City pulled within two with 9:33 to play and Bryant was still seated on the bench, the Lakers' star checked himself in and proceeded to score eight straight points and 13 of L.A.'s next 17 to bump the lead back to 10 with 4:01 remaining. Bryant hit contested baseline jumpers, scored off a drop step move in the lane, buried a fadeaway and made five of seven free throws. He finished the quarter shooting 5-for-6 from the field with two assists.

"Give Kobe credit," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "That's why he is the best player in this league. He makes tough shots. He makes clutch shots. That's what he does. That's who he is. He's one of the best at that. He turned it up in that fourth quarter."

Brooks tried to throw a trio of defenders at Bryant, starting with Thabo Sefolosha, countering with Kyle Weaver and ending with Kevin Durant. Together, they slowed Bryant down early, limiting him to 10 points on 5-for-12 shooting in the first half.

But the Thunder had no answer for Bryant in the final period.

"He's really competitive," said Lakers forward Pau Gasol. "He demands the ball (down the stretch). He wants to win no matter what. He was really aggressive. It seems like he never gets tired. And in the fourth quarters, that's his time. That's when he's most aggressive and making shots and finishing up plays like he was tonight. He's pretty much impossible to stop."

Behind Bryant, the Lakers shot 52.6 percent from the field and became the seventh straight team to score at least 100 points on the Thunder, which fell to 13-44 after losing its sixth straight game.

"Our guys will take things from them as a team and individually as players," Brooks said. "Overall, I'm happy with the effort. We just had a couple of bad stretches there where the turnovers cost us in the fourth quarter."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 27, 2009


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