LOS ANGELES -- A work of art, it was not. But the Los Angeles Lakers did what they needed to do in defeating the undermanned Oklahoma State Thunder in overtime, a 119-112 victory on Monday at the Staples Center.
With the win, the Lakers moved to 19-6 on the year and have won five in a row, while the Thunder dropped to 10-13 on the season.
The two teams will do it again on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The Thunder actually led by as many as 11 points in the first half. But James and the rest of his teammates reeled Oklahoma City in with some energized play by Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma off the bench, and Los Angeles closed the deficit to four points at the half.
However, the Lakers could not wrestle control of the game from the scrappy Thunder until late.
Wesley Matthews hit a three-pointer from the wing to cut Oklahoma City’s lead to two points with a 1:30 left. Matthews then stole the ball from Darius Bazley on the ensuing possession, went the other way and found James for a lay-in tying the game at 107-all.
Lugentz Dort missed a driving lay-in, the Lakers rebounded and Dennis Schröder hit a mid-range jumper, giving L.A. a 109-107 advantage with 34 seconds left. Schröder made one of two free throws after a miss by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
However, on Oklahoma City’s final possession of regulation, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fouled Gilgeous-Alexander on a three-point attempt and he made all three free throws, tying the game at 110-all with just over a second left.
James’ three-point attempt at the buzzer was long, and the Lakers were headed to overtime for a second straight game.
The Lakers finally took control of the game in overtime, grabbing a seven-point lead after a floater from Schröder and a deep three pointer by Matthews -- who finished with 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc in his first game action after being a healthy scratch in the last four games.
James notched his third triple-double of the season, finishing with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists – his 500th double-double and 97th triple-double of his career.
Schroder totaled 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists against this former team and Harrell pitched in 21 points and seven rebounds.
Top player: Kuzma once again provided good energy off the bench, finishing with a double-double, 11 points and 10 rebounds.
What I liked: The Lakers led 56-21 in bench points and had a 23-3 advantage in fast break points.
What I did not like: The Lakers shot 9-of-38 (23.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
Injuries: Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said Anthony Davis has some soreness in his right Achilles area, but that it’s nothing to be concerned about and the team heled him out against the Thunder as more of a precautionary measure. Davis did come out before Monday’s game against Oklahoma City and get some shots up. Vogel said Alex Caruso jammed two of his fingers on his right hand against the Detroit Pistons and it had some swelling in hand on Monday, so Vogel decided to hold him out as well. The injuries allowed Markeiff Morris and Matthews to get some playing time. Both players had been healthy scratches in the last four games. Jared Dudley remains out with right calf soreness.
They said it: “What I would describe it as he’s getting a lot more attention. He came out of the gates so hot, that there’s just an emphasis in the game plan, like you’ve got to know where he is. I just think he’s not getting open as much.” -- Vogel on the shooting struggles of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who’s shooting 7-of-26 (26.9 percent) from beyond arc in his last nine games after a hot start at the beginning of the season for the Lakers.