Lakers fail OKC test

(The Sports  Xchange) The Los Angeles Lakers were looking to make a statement. After climbing to within two games of the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs, they needed a victory over one of the elite teams to prove they were for real.

The Lakers (30-11) found that test in Oklahoma City (44-16), the defending conference champions. Even though a battered and beat up L.A. squad fought down to the final minutes, they still fell 122-105 Tuesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook had a game-high 37 points on 15-for-29 shooting. He also racked up 10 rebounds and five assists. Kevin Durant added 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook

Kobe Bryant paced L.A. with 30 points and was 11-for-12 from the charity stripe. Steve Nash kicked in 20 points and Metta World Peace added 16 in the defeat.

The Denver Nuggets won their sixth consecutive game by scrapping out a 120-113 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.

The Nuggets (40-22) became just the fourth Western Conference team to reach the 40-win mark and improved to 14-19 on the road. The Kings (21-41), meanwhile, dropped 15-14 at home. Avery Bradley scored a season-high 22 points as the Boston Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 109-101 at Wells Fargo Center.

Paul Pierce had 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Boston (32-27), which won its third consecutive game. Kevin Garnett also scored 18 points, as the Celtics shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 11 for 19 from 3-point range. They also overcame 22 turnovers.

Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Sixers (23-36), who lost for the ninth time in 10 games. Evan Turner chipped in 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Jrue Holiday had 18 points and 10 assists.

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