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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.
Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 22 points and Durant scored 21. The Thunder were held to a season-low 31 second-half points in suffering their first three-game losing streak of the season.
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.
After shooting 61 percent in the first half, the Thunder managed just half that percentage in the second half and lost after Durant and Westbrook each had turnovers in the final minute.
Ron Artest stripped Durant of the ball after Bryant's jumper made it 90-87 with 56.4 seconds left, and Westbrook charged into Gasol for an offensive foul with 17.3 seconds remaining.
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.
The Lakers took the lead for good on Brown's two free throws that made it 78-76 with 8:10 to play. Bryant's 3-pointer from the right wing made it 87-80 with 4:38 remaining and L.A. hung on from there.
Notes: Bryant picked up his 11th technical foul of the season with 59.8 seconds left before halftime when he turned to official Steve Javie to apparently protest a non-call with Sefolosha guarding him. Players get a one-game suspension if they accrue 16 technical fouls in a season. ... Lakers coach Phil Jackson questioned just how much playoff knowledge Perkins can impart on the Thunder, despite the fact he helped Boston win the title against L.A. in 2008. "Kendrick's a pretty young guy. I don't know how much experience he has if Garnett's not talking in his ear and sending him where to go. I think he's got the notion but whether he can be a leader and lead that deal, that's another story." ... Mohammed and Robinson were both on the active roster but neither played even though coach Scott Brooks said both should be ready to contribute. "It probably doesn't say good about my playbook, but I think they picked it up pretty good," he said. "I should just lie to you guys. 'They're only on Page 1 right now.'"
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