for this game

Lakers topple Thunder for seventh straight win

Feb 11, 2009 - 7:18 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- As Kobe Bryant passed another career milestone, the Los Angeles Lakers chalked up another victory on the road to grab the best record in the NBA this season.

In the first half, Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 23,000 points and Los Angeles posted a 105-98 victory over the stubborn Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.

Bryant hit a free throw in the second quarter to reach the plateau at 30 years and 171 days, five days quicker than the legendary Wilt Chamberlain as the Lakers improved to 42-9.

He led the Lakers to their seventh straight victory with 34 points despite the Thunder's best efforts. Los Angeles is 24-1 when holding its opponents under 100 points.

"It's always fun," Bryant said. "Whenever you talk history of the game, it's always a tremendous honor."

The Lakers didn't run away from the Thunder, who have improved under Scott Brooks. Oklahoma City hung tough until the final minutes when turnovers by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook doomed what little chance it had.

"It was a good effort, but playing against the best team in basketball, it has to be a flawless effort," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We did not have that, but we played hard."

Coming off a perfect six-game road swing, Los Angeles turned it off and on for this game. The contest was tied at 25-25 after one quarter before Showtime left the Thunder in the dust with a 35-22 surge in the second quarter.

Joe Smith gave the Thunder a 41-39 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Lakers responded with a 19-6 run heading into the break. Bryant scored 11 points during the surge.

Los Angeles was sluggish, again, in the third quarter as Oklahoma City cut a 15-point deficit to 74-69 before the quarter closed with the Lakers in front, 80-73.

Durant scored 12 of his 31 points in the quarter. The second-year pro from Texas topped the 30-point mark for the fifth straight game.

"I just try to get in there and play hard," Durant said. "I think the last couple of games I got away from our defense, so I tried to think defense first. Everything comes after that."

The closest the Thunder came in the final quarter was five points and Bryant scored six of the Lakers' last eight to seal the victory.

"I'm afraid our guys thought they had done their job they had to do in the first half and came out the second half and didn't play with the same energy and let them back in the ball game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each had double-doubles. Odom went for 12 points and 18 rebounds, while Gasol had 22 and 14.

"I think they're just being active in the paint," Bryant said of the duo. "They were just getting to the offensive glass, the defensive glass. Just being extremely active."

Jackson praised Odom.

"He's just beating everybody to the ball," Jackson said. "He took a few away from Pau and just beat him to the ball, and that's what Lamar is good at."