LOS ANGELES – The All-Star break was 12 minutes away, but the Thunder looked like a team 12 hours into vacation.
For the first three quarters on Thursday night in Los Angeles, OKC couldn’t hit an outside shot, couldn’t string together any stops and seemed like they couldn’t care less.
Then Kevin Durant got hot, the complimentary pieces started chipping in and the suddenly energized Thunder exploded past the depleted Lakers for a 107-103 comeback win.
“Just couldn’t get anything going,” Durant said of the first three quarters. “But that shows that we stay strong through the storms, keep fighting and made some big plays down the stretch.”
Thirty seconds into the fourth quarter, trailing 85-72, Durant dropped in a 27-footer. It was his first three of the night. Prior to that, he was 0-of-8 from deep.
It got him going. And it changed the complexion of the game.
Durant’s three was the start of a 20-2 Thunder run over the next six minutes, which gave OKC its first lead of the game with 6:16 left.
During that spurt, Durant had half of the points. And during the lopsided fourth quarter, which the Thunder won 35-21, Durant had 19 of his game-high 43 points.
It was his eighth 40-point game and 34th 30-point game of the season. He also added 12 rebounds and seven assists, a fitting closing act to his phenomenal first half.
“He is one of the best that I have seen in terms of really just playing through anything and everything,” Derek Fisher said. “Slow starts, the ball is not going in, he is just so confident in his ability.”
Beyond Durant, the Thunder got 21 huge points off the bench from Jeremy Lamb and Derek Fisher, who both hit crucial threes in the fourth quarter.
Fisher, in particular, continues to provide a steady presence off the bench. In his 22 minutes on the court, OKC outscored the Lakers by 19.
“He hit some big shots and he’s hit a lot of big shots in this building,” Brooks said. “We’re thankful for him. We were down 15 and he hit a big three. We were down again and he hit another big three.”
In the closing moments, after the Thunder took a pair of five-point leads, the Lakers regrouped enough to nearly take it to overtime.
But Chris Kaman missed a game-tying free throw with 22 seconds left and Durant and Fisher then sealed it with four big free throws.
OKC is now 17-1 this season when it has five players in double-figures.
This was the Thunder’s 43rd win of the season, four more than the franchise (since relocation) has ever had entering the All-Star break. Twenty-two of those wins have come without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.
“I didn’t think that we would be in the position we’d be in now with Russell missing so many games,” Brooks admitted. “But it’s not because I don’t have faith and confidence in our team. The Western Conference is tough.”
The Thunder now has a week off before its next game, against the Heat on Thursday in OKC, the start of a six-game homestand.