Gary A Vasquez – USA Today Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder entered Friday night’s game with an identical 36-37 record and 1-1 in head-to-head, the post-season tiebreaker.
This meant the stakes were at an all-time high, even though the Lakers were without two key picks in LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell. A win would have gone a long way for Los Angeles as they made the playoffs, and they were able to run up the stretch to walk away with a 116-111 win to get back to . 500 on the season.
Austin Reeves and Anthony Davis got the lead early, combining for the team’s first 13 points to build up an early 13-6 lead. Finally, Lou Dort managed to get the Thunder with a pair of 3-pointers, bringing things close.
Early on though the Thunder didn’t have an answer for Davis as he had a 15-point lead in the first quarter. Troy Brown Jr. and Wayne Gabriel also got involved in the action from deep, extending Los Angeles’ lead to double digits for the first time.
The Lakers bench continued what the rookies were doing with Malik Beasley and Lonnie Walker IV getting an exhausted three-run of his own giving the Lakers a 41-25 lead at the end of the quarter. The Lakers’ 41 points were a season-high in the first quarter.
After the Thunder cut their deficit to 11 early in the second, Walker had five consecutive points for Los Angeles to quickly bring it back to 16.
This was answered by another second run to cut the lead to six before Davis came back and responded with three points. The Lakers eventually went into the locker room at halftime with a 74-66 lead.
After a quiet first half, Shay Gilgos Alexander broke out early in the third quarter with some sloppy buckets. Dort also stayed hot from deep and suddenly the Lakers’ lead was reduced to just two.
Davis continued to be effective for the Lakers on offense, but Los Angeles allowed the Thunder to stay put with some weak defense. After a rough end of the quarter, the Lakers’ lead was only 93-92 in the fourth as Lindy Waters III beat the buzzer with 3 for Oklahoma City.
Dennis Schroeder had five straight Lakers points to start the final quarter, which was phenomenal as the momentum started to shift the other way.
Young Thunder continued to scratch and claw to stay in despite finally tying it at 102 after being jumped by Gilgos Alexander midway through the fourth.
Walker continued his big game with 3 and then Schroeder connected from the middle to put the Lakers ahead by five.
Jedi cut the Thunder’s deficit to four in the final minute, but Davis provided a great offensive rebound and contributed a free throw to seal the victory for Los Angeles.
Davis finished the night with 37 points and 15 rebounds in a dominant overall performance.
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