The Los Angeles Lakers were in desperate need of a big win and they got that done tonight.
It took overtime, but the Lakers went into Chesepeake Energy Arena and took out the Oklahoma City Thunder 138-128.
With LeBron James out for the 12th consecutive game nursing a groin injury, the Lakers once again needed their young guys to step up and get the job done and it was Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac who answered that call.
Kuzma finished with a game-high 32 points on efficient shooting to go with eight boards, four assists and three steals. Zubac had a career-game and was the clear X-factor tonight. The third-year player from Bosnia finished with a career-high 26 points while corralling 12 rebounds in 29 quality minutes off the bench.
The Thunder led by as much as 17 points early in this contest but the Lakers closed the gap quickly. It was neck and neck the rest of the way in a game that had 19 lead changes and 15 ties.
Russell Westbrook went to the free throw line with the game tied and 1:27 left in the fourth quarter but after going 1-for-2, Kuzma stepped up and hit a floater in the lane to give the Lakers the lead with under a minute to go.
For the lead!#LakeShow 122#ThunderUp 119- NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2019
OKC ball. 35.7 to go on @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/Al2F1Vk8IN
With 35 seconds remaining in regulation Josh Hart stepped to the free throw line and buried two clutch ones to go up by three points, making the Lakers one stop away from victory. With 2.9 seconds on the clock Westbrook was fouled by Ball on the game-tying 3-point attempt and he calmly stepped to the line and knocked down all three free throws to send the game into overtime.
From that point forward, it was pretty much all Lakers. For the first bucket in the overtime period Ball nailed a deep three to give LA the momentum they needed to pull this one out.
Lonzo wins the jump ball and lets it fly! 🎯- NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2019
📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/1clxNjegS0
They came up with six stops in a row before Terrence Ferguson got a 3-pointer to fall for the Thunder to bring the score to 129-125 with under two minutes to go but tonight's heros Kuzma and Zubac scored on back-to-back possessions essentially seal the game.
The Thunder broke their franchise record for 3-pointers made in a game with Ferguson knocking down a team-high six 3-pointers. Westbrook finished with 26 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds and Steven Adams notched a 17-point, 15-rebound double-double.
Paul George had a team-high 27 points to go with eight assists and also had the most shocking stat of the night - he went the entire fourth quarter without a field goal attempt. He did shoot two free throws in the fourth, but did not attempt a field goal from the 58 second mark in the third until the first possession of overtime.
Not ideal from your team's leading scorer in a close game.
The Lakers have now won two in a row and are 5-7 since LeBron's injury. They're 25-21 and are tied with the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West.
As for the Thunder, they've now dropped two in a row to fall to 26-18, 4.5 games out of first in the conference.