The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Lakers 122-105 Tuesday night in a game that saw Kobe Bryant leave for about five minutes due to an elbow injury. Bryant took a shot to his right elbow, missing a few possessions before returning to score 30 points.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 37 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Kevin Durant added 26 points and nine rebounds as the Thunder held off the Lakers.
The Thunder took a 17-point lead into the second half before the Lakers pulled within nine to start the fourth quarter. Steve Nash had 20 points and four assists in the losing effort while Dwight Howard had just six points. Howard added a whopping 16 rebounds, picking up the slack on the boards missed by losing Pau Gasol to injury for 6-8 weeks.
Kobe Bryant showed struggles with his elbow all night, holding it in pain as he went up and down the court. Bryant made just eight of 19 shots in the game, citing his elbow for the low scoring percentage.
“Every time you try to bend your elbow or extend it, there’s a little resistance and a lot of pain,” Bryant said after the loss to the Thunder.
The Lakers made big changes to their team this past offseason, only to see each of their new stars spend time off the court due to injury. Both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash missed games to start the season and the Lakers have yet to look like an NBA championship caliber team.
The Los Angeles Lakers are now two and a half games behind the Utah Jazz for the last place in the Western Conference playoffs. The Lakers next take the court Wednesday in New Orleans against the NBA-owned Hornets.
The Hornets have been one of the worst teams in the Western Conference all season, posting a 21-40 record. Only the Sacramento Kings have a worse record in the West at 21-41.
The Lakers follow up Wednesday’s game with a match-up Friday against the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are last in the Atlantic Division and have currently lost five games in a row. The back-to-back games with less-than-mediocre teams may be just what the Lakers need to get back on track.
Kobe Bryant will not sit due to his elbow injury, making the case that every game is important for Los Angeles going forward. The Oklahoma City Thunder take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden Thursday and look to continue their success on the road. The Thunder have won 17 road games, the third-most road wins in the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant’s injury seemed to be nothing more than a simple excuse for his struggles in Oklahoma City Tuesday night. The Thunder beat the Lakers to erase any momentum they had coming off a big win against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.