Kobe Makes Sure Lakers Take Care of the Thunder

We knew this would be a tough spot for the Lakers. What we didn't know was that Kobe Bryant would take charge early, and lead his team to a 105-98 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center.

Fresh off of a successful 6-0 road trip, the last thing the Lakers wanted to see was a young, athletic, and hungry team like the 11-38 Thunder that was standing in the way of their seventh straight victory. But Kobe somehow finds a way to motivate himself in these types of games, and his play was big reason that the Lakers didn't suffer a letdown against one of the worst teams in the league.

Bryant finished with 34 points, but had 22 in the first half, and seemed to have a nastiness about his work that, to the casual observer, would seem unnecessary against the lowly team from Oklahoma City. But with all of the praise being heaped upon second year player Kevin Durant, Bryant seemed to want to remind the youngster just how far he needed to go to reach the top of the NBA game. Kobe scored with a variety of moves, including the highlight of the night, which came late in the first half when he received a long outlet pass, put it behind his back in traffic, and finished with a highly difficult reverse layup in transition.

Lamar Odom finished with his second consecutive strong game on the glass, ending up with 18 rebounds to go along with his 12 points. Pau Gasol put in a yeoman-like 22 and 14, and even though the Lakers' lead was single digits for most of the night, you never got the feeling that the Thunder actually had a chance at winning it.

Speaking of the Thunder, Kevin Durant had a great night statistically, even if his performance was somehow not all that impressive. He finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and four steals, but again, the way Kobe went at him in the first half, those numbers seem to ring a bit hollow. Durant shot just 10-of-23 from the field, and nine of his 10 boards came on the defensive end.

The Lakers did the bare minimum in getting a home victory against the Thunder, which is a good thing: because Wednesday night sees them travel to Utah, where a road tilt against the Jazz will likely provide much more of a challenge to that seven-game win streak.

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