NBA roundup: Lakers rout Thunder, Lillard helps Bucks sink Clippers


NBA roundup: Lakers rout Thunder, Lillard helps Bucks sink Clippers

The Lakers put in another strong display
The Lakers put in another strong displayProfimedia
D'Angelo Russell (28) scored 26 points as the Los Angeles Lakers produced a dominant defensive display to upset the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-104 on Monday.

Russell and Anthony Davis (24) combined for 50 points while LeBron James added 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in an ultimately comfortable win for the 17-time NBA champions.

Oklahoma City went into the game as leaders of the Western Conference and they started smoothly, opening up a 12-point lead early in the first quarter.

But some stubborn defending and Russell's hot hand hauled the Lakers back into contention, and a big second-quarter - outscoring the Thunder 27-18 - gave them a lead they held for the remainder of the contest.

"Early on they made some shots and we turned the ball over, but we didn't totally collapse," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.

"We continued to defend. I told the team at half-time: 'That's the best defensive half I've seen all season.'

"Kudos to our guys - they stepped up and defended really, really well."

The Lakers defence restricted Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to 20 points, while Chet Holmgren finished with 15 and Josh Giddey 13.

The defeat knocked Oklahoma City (42-19) out of top spot in the West, with the Minnesota Timberwolves taking over first place. The Lakers improved to 34-29 to sit in ninth.

Elsewhere, Damian Lillard produced a dazzling 41-point display as the Milwaukee Bucks shrugged off the injury absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 113-106.

With Antetokounmpo ruled out just before tip-off with a sore Achilles, and Khris Middleton also out injured, Lillard led from the front to help in-form Milwaukee claim a sixth straight victory.

The Clippers looked to have the measure of their opponents, opening up a 15-point lead at one stage in the third quarter.

'Embraced it'

But Lillard and Bobby Portis caught fire in the fourth as the Bucks outscored the Clippers 40-25 to pull clear and seal the win before a fired-up Milwaukee crowd.

Lillard finished with four rebounds and four assists along with his 41 points, while Portis stepped up with 28 points and 16 rebounds.

Milwaukee improved to 41-21, leaving them second place in the Eastern Conference behind Boston (48-12).

"We're just playing together on both sides of the ball," Lillard said.

Bucks coach Doc Rivers accused some members of his team as being in holiday-mode prior to last month's All-Star game mid-season break.

But Lillard revealed the Bucks were now reaping the benefits from a clear-the-air meeting that has sparked the team's unbeaten streak.

"Coming out of the break we had a big talk as a team, Doc addressed a lot of things, challenged us to do some things differently - and I think we embraced it as a team," Lillard said.

"Leading into the break there were a lot of things that we just weren't fully committed to doing together. But now I think everybody is seeing the success of us being all-in on both sides."

The only down note for the Bucks came with Antetokounmpo's injury.

The Greek star appeared for a pre-game warm-up but hobbled away in visible discomfort with a left Achilles problem as he went through shooting drills.

The Clippers saw Paul George and James Harden finish with 29 points apiece, with Kawhi Leonard adding 16.

Minnesota leapfrogged Oklahoma City at the top of the West after their 119-114 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Minneapolis.

French international Rudy Gobert led Minnesota's scoring with 25 points, hauling in 16 rebounds with three blocks.

Anthony Edwards finished with 13 off the bench on a night when six Minnesota players posted double-digit points tallies.

Anfernee Simons was the pick of the Portland shooters with 34 points, including 5-of-13 from three-point range. Duop Reath made 5-of-6 from outside the arc en route to 26 points.


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