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News » No sweat for Kobe, LA

No sweat for Kobe, LA

No sweat for Kobe, LA
The man everyone came to see Tuesday night inside the Ford Center never touched the court in the fourth quarter.

Kobe Bryant didn't have to. His Los Angeles Lakers thoroughly outplayed the Thunder from start to finish, leading by as many as 24 points before winning 107-89 to silence a sold-out crowd of 19,136.

The Thunder never led against the Western Conference-leading Lakers (56-14) and dropped its third straight game inside the Ford Center after winning four straight at home.

"It's disappointing when a team can just kind of go through the motions and beat you like that," said Nick Collison. "I feel like that's what they did tonight. Kobe didn't really seem like he broke a sweat. (Pau) Gasol wasn't too aggressive. So it's disappointing on our end that we didn't make them work harder."

Bryant, the league's reigning MVP who entered the game third in the NBA in scoring at 27.7 points per game, finished with a ho-hum 19 points on 6-for-18 shooting. Guard Thabo Sefolosha hounded Bryant into a poor shooting night, blocking two of his shots and forcing him into several other contested jumpers.

But Gasol (14 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists) and Lamar Odom (18 points, six rebounds) more than made up for Bryant's off night offensively. That tandem helped Los Angeles outscore Oklahoma City 54-38 in points in the paint.

And while the Lakers worked the ball around for high-percentage shots, the Thunder often settled for jump shots, going 3-for-18 from the 3-point line and shooting just 41.5 percent for the game. The Thunder also turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 24 Laker points.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 24 points but struggled again with his shot, going 8-for-20. Guard Russell Westbrook made only 2 of 11 shots.

"We're learning, so you have to take the good with the bad," said Chucky Atkins. "Tonight was a tough night for us, a night for us to learn, and we've got to move forward."

The Lakers took a 37-20 lead after the first quarter and were ahead 62-38 at halftime. With an 18-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Bryant never needed to check back into the game.

It all came two nights after the Thunder recorded its most convincing win of the season, a 97-90 win over Minnesota in which Oklahoma City lead by as many as 32 points.

"This is a very humbling league," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We felt pretty good about ourselves last game in Minnesota."

The road only gets tougher for the Thunder, with a three-game road trip beginning Friday at Toronto before a stop in Boston on Sunday and a game Tuesday at San Antonio.

"It don't stop," Atkins said. "This is the NBA. You've got to come out and play tough every night or else you find yourself down 62-38."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 27, 2009


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