The third time proved to be the charm for the Lakers.
After losing their first two games this season to Oklahoma City by a combined 21 points, Los Angeles beat a sluggish Thunder side 105-96 at the Staples Center on Sunday afternoon.
In the final game of a six-game road trip, OKC showed its fatigue on both sides of the court. The Thunder allowed L.A. to shoot 55.4 percent from the floor, while the All-Star tandem of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had subpar performances on the offensive end.
Durant finished with a game-high 35 points but shot just 10-of-26 with two rebounds and two turnovers. KD did the majority of his damage from the foul line, where he converted 13-of-14 from the stripe, but never seemed to establish a flow throughout the game.
Westbrook had an abysmal outing from the floor, shooting just 6-for-22 for 17 points, but he flirted with a triple-double with 13 assists and a team-best nine rebounds.
As Thunder fans have grown to know, you take the good with the bad when it comes to Westbrook and Sunday had plenty of both. His shooting woes and decision making in many ways doomed the Thunder, but his aggressiveness kept OKC in it at the same time.
The Thunder got solid offensive outings from its bigs with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins each scoring 10 points and snagging six rebounds. Ibaka also tallied four blocks.
This game was always within reach for the Thunder and quarter-ending buzzer beaters by Westbrook in the second and third quarters kept giving indications that OKC was going to take control at some point. But to the Lakers' credit, Los Angeles played strong team basketball and effective defense. Despite never really expanding its fourth-quarter lead until the very end, there was never really any doubt that the Lakers were in control down the stretch.
The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant's 21 points on an uncharacteristically low number of attempts. Bryant was 8-for-12 from the floor with 14 assists.
Pau Gasol was also a thorn in Oklahoma City's side, scoring 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
As usual, Perkins held Dwight Howard in check. Perk limited Howard to just eight points on 3-for-7 shooting. However, a lot of the low output falls on Howard, who was an atrocious 2-for-10 from the free-throw line.
With the loss, OKC drops to 34-11 on the season and 15-8 on the road. L.A. improved to 19-25.
The Thunder finally returns home after a long rest but it doesn't get much easier. OKC plays Memphis (28-14) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena.