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Bryant helps Lakers down Thunder
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Perhaps a more generous Kobe Bryant is the answer to the Lakers' problems.
For the second consecutive game, Bryant finished with more assists than shot attempts and Los Angeles took down the Oklahoma City Thunder, 105-96, at the Staples Center on Sunday.
Bryant scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and matched Friday's assist total against Utah with 14 to help the Lakers to their second consecutive victory. He also tallied nine rebounds.
"We played the way we wanted to play and today just did it against probably the best team in the league," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. "We can see our potential that we can live up to. And again it is the second step. We have a long ways to go."
Five other Lakers scored in double-figures, with Steve Nash scoring 17 and Pau Gasol pouring in 16 off the bench. Metta World Peace tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Dwight Howard battled foul trouble most of the contest. He scored eight points and grabbed 10 boards.
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 35 points and Russell Westbrook contributed 17 points with 13 assists, as the Thunder alternated wins and losses in capping a six-game road trip. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins each scored 10 in defeat.
"They're a physical team, Kobe picked us apart," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "14 assists in back-to-back games, he can do it all. We didn't shoot the way we wanted to. They just beat us."
During a close contest in which neither team ever led by double-digits, the Thunder led 53-52 at the half and both teams were knotted at 75-75 after the third.
Trailing 86-82, Westbrook stole the ball from Chris Duhon and threw down a fastbreak dunk before Durant swished a triple to put the Thunder back on top by one with 6:38 remaining in the fourth.
However, the Lakers came away victorious by relying on ball movement, as they finished with 29 assists on 41 made field goals for the game.
They responded to Durant's 3-pointer by taking the lead for good following a 7-0 push, as Bryant buried a long jumper to put Los Angeles ahead 93-87.
From there, the Thunder could not get enough stops, as Bryant dished out assists to Nash, who scored on consecutive Laker possessions, to keep a six- point edge with just over three minutes to play.
After Oklahoma City came within four on a pair of Durant free throws, Bryant drove the lane and found an open Gasol underneath the basket to put the Lakers ahead 101-95.
"I'm trying to figure out what we need as a ball club to win," said Bryant on becoming an assist man. "It takes some of the pressure off Steve, I think we're figuring out what we want to do. We played a solid game plan today, we just needs wins."
Westbrook drew a foul at the other end, but was only able to split a pair from the line. Bryant then put the game away with a jumper to give the Lakers a 103-96 lead with 37 seconds remaining.
The last time Bryant had double-digit assists in back-to-back games was against the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 1-3, 2011 ... Los Angeles made 7-of-17 attempts from beyond the arc, while the Thunder converted just 4-of-16 from 3-point-range ... Oklahoma City had won five of the previous six meetings with the Lakers ... Los Angeles will conclude its three-game homestand against New Orleans on Tuesday before beginning a seven-game road trip.
01/27 19:03:35 ET