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Lakers eye two straight wins, host mighty Thunder
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers only had a short amount of time to enjoy their latest victory because Sunday's matchup won't be as easy with the Oklahoma City Thunder in town at Staples Center.
The Lakers halted a four-game losing streak and won for only the third time this month (3-10) with Friday's 102-84 victory over the Utah Jazz in the opener of a three-game homestand. Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard each scored 17 points for the Lakers, who shot 53.8 percent for the game and had a 45-30 advantage on the glass.
Kobe Bryant handed out a season-high 14 assists to go with 14 points and nine rebounds. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash each netted 15 points for L.A.
"I tried to make a real concerted effort to force the game upon my teammates a little bit and just have them play with confidence," Bryant said of his 14- assist performance, which was one shy of a career high set in 2002.
Los Angeles is 13-10 as the host this season and will close out the homestand Tuesday versus the New Orleans Hornets. The team held a meeting this week to air out some differences and the pow-wow seemed to work, at least on Friday.
Howard shook off a balky shoulder to produce 13 boards as well.
"It feels pretty good," Howard said. "I did a lot of work before the game."
The Thunder will put the finishing touches on a six-game road trip (3-2) Sunday and recorded a balanced attack in Friday's 105-95 triumph at Sacramento.
Kevin Durant had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and has eclipsed the 20-point mark in each of his last 20 games. Russell Westbrook scored 18 points to go with a season-high 14 assists, including a Thunder record eight in the third quarter, while Kevin Martin finished with 24 points off the bench.
Oklahoma City had a 59-37 advantage in the middle quarters and used a 26-8 bulge in the third stanza to pull away.
"We're an aggressive team," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We play for each other and I thought that was really good, maybe one of our best quarters of the year in that third quarter."
The Thunder, who are 9-1 in games played after a loss and 8-2 in the last 10 games, moved to 15-1 on the season when five or more players score in double figures. Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and Thabo Sefolosha rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points.
Oklahoma City is 15-7 away from home this season and has won six of its last eight road tilts. After visiting the Lakers, the Thunder will play four of five games back at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder have beaten the Lakers twice already this season and will host Los Angeles on March 5. OKC has won five of the last six meetings between the teams, but is only 3-9 in the last 12 at the Lakers.
01/27 10:57:56 ET
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