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NBA West: Lakers Snap Skid, Thunder Ends Trail Blazer Home Win Streak

After missing three games with a sore shoulder, Los Angeles Lakers (16-21) center Dwight Howard returned on Sunday and helped his team snap a six-game losing streak by defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers (9-30), 113-93. The win represented the Lakers first one in 2013.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (29-8) rolled on to another victory, keeping their Western conference lead by beating the Portland Trail Blazers (20-17), 87-83. The Thunder will try to keep its win streak alive against the Phoenix Suns (13-26) on Monday.

Lakers defeat the Cavaliers, 113-93

Lakers Center Dwight Howard

Entering Sunday’s game with a six-game slide, the Lakers were entering a danger zone as it had been since February 2007  to endure such a long losing streak.

Fortunately Howard’s 22 points (9 for 11) and 14 rebounds helped shake some rust off the team for the win.

Ok, it was the Cavaliers, who have lost seven of their last nine games, but the Lakers’ losses had been mounting and a win is a win, especially since the team had beat the Lakers in December.

Kobe Bryant added 23 points and put on a strong defensive effort on Sunday.

For the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters both contributed 15 points while Alonzo Gee added 14 points.

Steve Nash had said earlier in the day that Sunday’s game was a “must win.” He hit three free throws, expanding his season to 18 for 18 and continuing to lead the NBA for all-time free throws.

Nash had also commented on the Howard/Pau Gasol duo with, “I don’t know what the best way is to make them play together, but I know one thing is that they both got to just play hard and believe and not worry about — ‘Hey, how can we make this work. We just got to fight and scrap and on defense, use their length and athleticism and on offense, we all got to just be unselfish and sacrifice and make plays for each other regardless of where we are on the floor.”

Not helping matters Gasol has career lows in both average points per game (12.1) and shooting percentage (41.6 percent).

The player was out for Sunday’s game, recovering from a concussion and will undergo additional evaluation on Monday.

Is Sunday’s win, the beginning of the Lakers’ season? Coach Mike D’Antoni thinks so and said before Sunday’s game to ESPN, “I told the team that the biggest thing is that our season starts Sunday, We put ourselves in this ditch and we are the only ones that can get ourselves out.”

On Tuesday, the Lakers will try to keep their new season alive against the Phoenix Suns.

Thunder defeat Trail Blazers, 87-83 

Thunder forward Kevin Durant

On Sunday, the Thunder acted as the spoiler, ending the Trail Blazers nine-game home win streak.

This came even while being shorthanded as starters Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha were absent from the game. This contributed to the Thunder’s lowest scoring game since the season’s opener against the San Antonio Spurs.

Ibaka was out from a chest contusion and missing Sunday’s game was a first for the player this season. His play was missed as he is averaging 14.3 point and 8 rebounds.

For Sefolosha (sore neck), DeAndre Liggins pinch hit for him and contributed 11 points with nine rebounds.

Kevin Durant led the team in scoring with 33 points, followed by Russell Westbrook’s 18 points and nine assists. On Friday, Durant scored 42 points against the Lakers and he continues improving his play this season.

For the Trail Blazers, a missed jumper with 17 seconds remaining by LaMarcus Aldridge would have tied the game. For the night, Aldridge did have 33 points–a season high–with 11 rebounds. The team overcame an 11-point deficit to make it a one-point game with a minute left but came up short and disappointed.

The Thunder will try for a fourth straight win (-5.5, 199 o/u) but for the big June prize, they’re at +350.


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