Rapid Reaction: Lakers 105, Thunder 96

LOS ANGELES -- The restarted season actually seems to have worked this time.

After a winless preseason, coaching change and injuries galore, the Los Angeles Lakers' 2012-13 season finally has some momentum moving in the right direction.

The Lakers still have a lot of work to do at 19-25 to fully get back in the playoff picture, but if they play like this on a consistent basis and stay healthy, that shouldn't be a problem.

How it happened: Quite simply, the Lakers battled. They battled for rebounds (winning the boards 43-39). They battled on defense (holding the Thunder to 44.4 percent shooting overall and 25 percent from 3-point range). They battled all the questions and doubt that has surrounded them to put together their best game of the season.

What it means: If the Lakers stick to the game plan they've employed in their past two games against Utah and Oklahoma City -- digging in on defense and sharing the ball on offense -- playoffs, here they come. They still have a major challenge ahead of them -- taking their 5-15 road record on a seven-game road trip starting Wednesday -- but they have clearly found something that works and have the momentum they need to get some wins away from Staples Center.

Hits: Kobe Bryant (21 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds) just missed a triple-double for the second straight game and matched his 14-assist total against Utah.

Six Lakers scored in double figures including Bryant, Metta World Peace (15 points), Steve Nash (17), Pau Gasol (16), Earl Clark (11) and even Antawn Jamison, who chipped in 12 points in 13 minutes.

Misses: Dwight Howard got saddled by five fouls and had trouble finding his rhythm, finishing just 3-for-7 from the field and 2-for-10 from the foul line for eight points to go along with 10 rebounds.

Stat of the night: Russell Westbrook shot just 6-for-22 from the field after starting the game 1-for-13.

What's next: The Lakers host the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday and expect to get Steve Blake back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 11 before they head out on the road.