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.
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.