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Lakers edge Thunder 90-87
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Pau Gasol had 18 points and 11 rebounds, Kobe Bryant scored 17 points and the Los Angeles Lakers extended their cushion over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference standings by beating the Thunder 90-87 on Sunday.
Andrew Bynum added 16 points and 10 rebounds, but the Lakers weren’t able to simply overpower a Thunder team that added Kendrick Perkins for interior toughness but won’t get him in the lineup for a couple weeks.
Lamar Odom missed a pair of free throws with 10.9 seconds left to leave the door open for Oklahoma City, but Kevin Durant and James Harden each missed 3-pointers from the top of the key in the closing moments.
The Lakers have gained three games on the fourth-place Thunder in the standings in the past five days and are now 4 1/2 games ahead.
The Lakers used a similar formula for their win against Oklahoma City earlier this season in Los Angeles, when they held the Thunder to just 39 points in the second half.
The Thunder still got one last chance but couldn’t convert.
None of Oklahoma City’s three trade deadline acquisitions _ Perkins, Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson _ played although Perkins was the only one unavailable. The Thunder still held their own in the paint after getting outscored there 54-26 in a blowout loss at Orlando on Friday night.
Oklahoma City actually outscored the Lakers 40-34 inside and held a 39-36 rebounding advantage behind Serge Ibaka’s 13 boards.
Harden added 14 points off the bench for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City shot 61 percent and led 56-51 after a first half featuring wild back-and-forth swings. The Thunder ran out to a quick 12-2 lead after back-to-back 3-pointers by Thabo Sefolosha, then let that lead get whittled down to one before ripping off a 17-4 surge that made it 38-24 following Daequan Cook’s consecutive 3s early in the second quarter.
Odom answered at the other end with a shot-clock beating 3-pointer and the Lakers came back to tie it at 42 with an 18-4 response that featured Shannon Brown’s strangely banked-in 3-pointer from the right corner.
L.A. then clamped down on defense, limiting the Thunder to a season-low 13 points on 23 percent shooting in the third quarter and pulling ahead 72-69 on Steve Blake’s 3-pointer at the end of the period.
By John R. Bolton
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