NBA: Thunder rolls; Kobe has scare

2013-03-06T00:00:00Z NBA: Thunder rolls; Kobe has scareThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook had 37 points and 10 rebounds, Kevin Durant scored 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off a second-half charge to beat the improving Los Angeles Lakers 122-105 on Tuesday night.

The Thunder led from start to finish, but had their 18-point lead whittled to five midway through the fourth quarter. Serge Ibaka, who dodged a suspension after delivering a low blow against Blake Griffin in Oklahoma City's previous game, hit a three-pointer and Westbrook had a two-handed slam as the Thunder scored the last 12 points.

Los Angeles didn't score for the last 6:14.

Kobe Bryant ended up with 30 points after leaving the game with a right elbow injury in the first quarter. Steve Nash matched his season best with 20 points as the Lakers fell back below .500 after reaching the mark for the first time since December.

Oklahoma City tied an NBA record with two turnovers. Milwaukee set the record in a game against Indiana on April 1, 2006, and Cleveland tied it in an overtime game against Portland on March 19, 2009.

The Lakers' Dwight Howard had six points and 16 rebounds before fouling out with 2:24 left. L.A. fell to 1-11 in road games against the teams that currently occupy the eight Western Conference playoff spots and is now 2 1/2 games behind eighth-place Utah.

After finally pulling back to .500 during a season marred by injuries, the Lakers got another big scare. Bryant came out of the game and headed to the locker room with a right elbow injury less than 4 minutes in. Bryant air-balled his first shot from three-point range and was grabbing at the elbow, even crossing up arms with Durant after the ball had been stolen away by Durant.

A trainer accompanied Bryant to the locker room, starting an anxious few minutes for a team that has already had All-Stars Howard, Nash and Pau Gasol miss time with injuries this season.

Bryant was able to return about 4:30 later, making his first shot a left-handed hook. He dribbled mainly with his left hand and even snagged one rebound by cradling it in his left arm.

Ibaka was fined $25,000 by the NBA for striking the Clippers' Blake Griffin in the groin area during Sunday's game.

• Nuggets 120, Kings 113: In Sacramento, Calif., Ty Lawson had 24 points and Danilo Gallinari added 23 for Denver as it won its sixth straight game.

The deep and talented Nuggets used a 36-point third quarter to build a lead against Sacramento that they never relinquished in winning their season-best third straight road game. They scored 70 second-half points when they shot nearly 64 percent.

The streaking Nuggets have won seven of eight games, including 11 in a row at home, where they own a 26-3 record, which ties Miami for the best mark in the NBA.

• Celtics 109, 76ers 101: In Philadelphia, Paul Pierce had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Avery Bradley scored 22 points to lead Boston to the win.

Kevin Garnett added 18 points as the Celtics continued their push up the Eastern Conference standings. The Celtics entered in seventh, but were no more than two games behind the next three teams ahead in the standings.

Led by Pierce, the Celtics controlled the game and used a 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to seal the win. Last May, these two teams went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Tuesday, the Sixers lost for the ninth time in 10 games and are well out of the playoff race. Jrue Holiday had 18 points and 10 assists for the Sixers.

Rim shots

• J.J. Barea's confrontation with Ray Allen got him ejected from Minnesota's game against Miami. One day later, the NBA ruled that Barea never should have been ejected.

Barea was encouraged by the correction, but it came a little too late for Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman. The NBA downgraded a Flagrant-2 foul on Barea to a Flagrant-1 foul on Tuesday, meaning Barea will not face a fine or suspension after a chest bump knocked Allen down.

"The NBA did a good job looking at it," Barea said.

• Guard Aaron Brooks signed with Houston, rejoining the team that drafted him in 2007 after a multi-player trade with Sacramento, where Brooks averaged eight points and 2.3 assists. Houston also picked up rookie Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia.

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