Thunder holds off Lakers’ charge, 122-105

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives around Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives around Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook had 37 points and 10 rebounds, Kevin Durant scored 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off a second-half charge to beat the improving Los Angeles Lakers 122-105 on Tuesday night.

The Thunder led from start to finish, but had their 18-point lead whittled down to five midway through the fourth quarter. Serge Ibaka, who dodged a suspension after delivering a low blow against Blake Griffin in Oklahoma City’s previous game, hit a 3-pointer and Westbrook had a two-handed slam as the Thunder scored the last 12 points.

Kobe Bryant ended up with 30 points after leaving the game with a right elbow injury in the first quarter. Steve Nash matched his season best with 20 points as the Lakers fell back below .500 after reaching the mark for the first time since December.

Oklahoma City tied an NBA record with two turnovers.

CELTICS 111, 76ERS 101: In Philadelphia, Paul Pierce had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Avery Bradley scored 22 points to lead Boston over Philadelphia.

Kevin Garnett scored 18 points to help the Celtics continued their push up the Eastern Conference standings. The Celtics entered in seventh, but were no more than two games behind the next three teams ahead in the standings.

Led by Pierce, the Celtics controlled the game and used a 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to seal the win. Last May, these two teams went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. On Wednesday, the Sixers lost for the ninth time in 10 games and are well out of the playoff race.

Jrue Holiday had 18 points and 10 assists for the Sixers, and Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The Sixers beat the Celtics twice this season after stretching the Celtics to seven games in last year’s playoff series.

But the Sixers are a team in freefall because of injuries and a roster ill-equipped to handle the losses of postseason standouts Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams.

There was some mild concern late in the fourth period when Holiday, their All-Star point guard, was hurt. Holiday grabbed his right ankle and hobbled back on defense after an awkward drive. He hopped on one foot after a steal attempt went nowhere, but did stay in the game.

Like so many teams over the last 15 years, the Sixers had no real answer for Pierce. He hit his first four 3-point attempts, each one more crushing than the last.

When the Sixers went on a mini-run to close within eight, Pierce and Jason Terry connected on consecutive 3s to build a comfortable lead.

At one point in the first half, both teams were 15 of 32 from the field. The Celtics found other ways to separate themselves from the Sixers: Boston went to the free-throw line and made 3s.

The Sixers missed 9 of 11 3-point attempts in the first half and were 0 for 3 from the free-throw line.

The Sixers finished 5 of 21 on 3s and 14 of 18 on foul shots They did score 64 points in the paint.

Boston got sloppy at the end of the third quarter and had three turnovers in the final 90 seconds. That helped the Sixers score six straight points and slice the lead to five. Jordan Crawford opened the fourth period with a pair of 3-pointers that made it 91-76 and the Celtics never let up from there.

Crawford’s points and production off the bench were needed for a veteran team with another game Wednesday night at Indiana. He scored 12 points and fellow reserve Jeff Green added 16.

Pierce’s perfection helped the Celtics go 11 of 19 from 3-point range.

NOTES: Injured 76ers C Andrew Bynum (knees) was re-examined in New York on Tuesday by Dr. David Altchek. GM Tony DiLeo said surgery remained an option. ... Sixers G Nick Young (sprained left ankle) did not play. ... The 76ers will play two preseason games in Europe. They’ll play Uxue Bilbao on Oct. 6 in Bilbao, Spain, and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 8 in Manchester, England.