The Los Angeles Lakers played one of their best games of the season to close out their five-game road trip, picking up a 108-104 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The notable effort from the entire team was capped off when Brandon Ingram swatted Carmelo Anthony back to Denver, followed by Julius Randle throwing down the breakaway slam on the other end.
The final minute wasn’t smooth sailing, though, with the Lakers turning the ball over as the Thunder cranked up the pressure. Ingram also missed two huge free-throws with less than 30 seconds left, giving Oklahoma City a fresh lease on life.
Ultimately, though, the Lakers managed to hang on despite doing nearly everything in their power to blow an otherwise-successful game.
It was another big game for Josh Hart, who continues to impress on both ends of the floor. Hart’s defense on Anthony in the post was eye-opening, while his second double-double in a row (14 points, 11 rebounds) since being inserted into the starting lineup is a testament to how active he’s been.
The production from the Lakers’ starting frontcourt of Brook Lopez (team-high 20 points, 4-of-9 from deep) and Julius Randle (19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) was huge. It was particularly satisfying to watch Randle win his matchup against Carmelo, with the Melo Man scoring 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
It was a great win for the Lakers, minus a final minute that featured some head-scratching mistakes from the purple and gold. The Lakers are off Monday, hosting the Phoenix Suns in for a homecoming game in STAPLES Center Tuesday. That will be their final game before the trade deadline passes.
Whether the core of this team stays together or not, they put it together for one of their best wins of the season. The clock ticks onward, though.