Playing without Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder's newest addition, the Lakers' big men had a relatively easy Sunday afternoon.
Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol both had solid performances, combining for 34 points and 21 rebounds, as the Lakers pulled off a big 90-87 victory at Oklahoma City Arena, in a possible preview of the Western Conference Finals.
The Thunder could have used Perkins's interior defense against 2011 All-Star Gasol, and Bynum, who doesn't appear to be suffering any effects from a knee injury that forced him out of the first seven weeks of the season. The former Celtics center will remain inactive for at least a couple of more weeks due to a sprained knee, but when he returns the Lakers know their future meetings with Oklahoma City will be more difficult.
Kendrick will obviously provide great muscle inside, and he's the best low-post defender we have in the game, so it's a welcome addition for them, I'm sure, said Kobe Bryant, who shot only eight-for-22 from the field, and scored only 17 points.
The loss marks the first three-game slide for the Thunder all season. Superstar forward Kevin Durant scored 21 points on eight-of-20 shooting, but also had five turnovers.
Lamar Odom had a chance to put the game away for the Lakers with 10.9 seconds remaining, but he missed two free throws. Kevin Durant and James Harden couldn't capitalize on the opportunity to tie the game, as both missed three-pointers from the top of the key.
The Lakers improve their record to 42-19, and are now firmly positioned with the third best record in the Western Conference. The Thunder's record falls to 36-22, but they remain in first place in the Northwest Division.