After every plot twist and dramatic turn in the Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- After every plot twist and dramatic turn in the Los Angeles Lakers soap opera of a season, perhaps their stars latest identity switches shouldnt be all that shocking. wholesale jerseys china . Kobe Bryant made all the big passes. Steve Nash scored important points down the stretch. Pau Gasol excelled off the bench as the new-look Lakers calmly maintained a fourth-quarter lead on the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder. Bryant had 21 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds, Nash added seven of his 17 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes, and the Lakers held off the NBA-leading Thunder 105-96 Sunday. Gasol scored 16 points in a reserve role as the Lakers picked up the most impressive victory of their thoroughly unimpressive season, coolly maintaining a small lead down the stretch of their second straight win after a four-game skid. With Bryant taking on a playmaking role, Nash stepping up his offensive game and Dwight Howard preaching togetherness, the 19-25 Lakers are cautiously optimistic their latest reboot will work -- and even the Thunder were impressed. "Were doing a good job right now of just being real with each other and holding each other accountable," said Bryant, who had 14 assists and fell one rebound shy of a triple-double in each of the past two games. "That makes a huge difference. Im trying to evolve and find out what we need as a ballclub." So is everybody else with the Lakers, who had lost nine of their last 11 against the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, including four of five in the clubs second-round playoff series last spring and a blowout loss at Staples Center 16 days ago. The Lakers have strung together two solid games at home since a clear-the-air team meeting in Memphis last week. "Weve found something that works, thats for sure, and something we can feel good about," said Gasol, who played 36 minutes. "I think the way we are playing, we can be very successful." Kevin Durant scored 35 points and Russell Westbrook had 17 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the road-weary Thunder, who finished their longest trip of the season at 3-3. Durant could sense the Lakers desperation in their fourth-quarter effort. "The whole arena felt that way," the three-time NBA scoring champion said. "They needed a win. It was a must-win for them, and they came out and performed well. They were hitting shots, and they were doing a good job of protecting the paint. We missed some good shots as well. As a group, we all have to do our roles better. Every individual has to play their role to a T for us to win games, but well be fine." Bryant and Westbrook briefly tangled in the third quarter in an exchange that earned a technical foul for Kobe. Both All-Star guards entered the fourth quarter needing just one rebound for a triple-double, but neither got it. Westbrook missed his first eight shots and 12 of his first 13 before finding a rhythm, but the Lakers didnt wilt down the stretch. "The thought the execution at the end of the game by our team definitely could have been better," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "Its something that were pretty good at, but a lot of that had to do with their team. Theyre a physical team, and they were moving us around a little bit towards the end." Los Angeles took the lead with 6:15 to play on a jumper by Metta World Peace, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Lakers nursed a small advantage in the final minutes, going up 101-95 on Gasols driving layup with 1:09 to play. Bryant then hit a tough 19-foot jumper with 37 seconds left, and Westbrook couldnt answer. Durant didnt have a field goal in the final 6:39, scoring just seven points in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma Citys third loss in 11 games. Oklahoma City routed the Lakers earlier this month, with Durant scoring 42 points and Westbrook adding 27 while Los Angeles played without Howard and Gasol. Howard had just eight points and 10 rebounds this time out while fighting foul trouble and missing eight of his 10 free throws. Bryant and Nash led a passionate effort by the Lakers, whose season-long missteps and embarrassments have left them well out of the playoff picture heading into the second half of the season. "Im very excited to see our progress," Howard said. "Were going to continue to work, continue to talk to each other. The biggest difference is were holding each other accountable for everything. We had a great talk in Memphis, and its carried over." NOTES: The clubs conclude their season series in Oklahoma City on March 5. ... Lakers owner Jerry Buss celebrated his 79th birthday. The Basketball Hall of Famer hasnt attended a game this season while dealing with health concerns. ... Derek Fisher, the five-time champion Lakers guard who finished last season with the Thunder, watched from a courtside seat. Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Alessandro Nivola, Horace Grant and baseball stars Matt Kemp, Vernon Wells and Michael Young also sat courtside. cheap jerseys from china . The Portland right-winger scored his 49th and 50th goals of the season Monday as the Winterhawks routed Prince George 7-2 in the Western Hockey League. wholesale jerseys online . Western (8-0) received 20 first-place votes from the Football Reporters of Canada panel. The second-ranked Laval Rouge et Or had the other 10 first-place votes. The only other unbeaten team, the 8-0 Calgary Dinos, remained in third spot.CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Bengals cornerback Adam (Pacman) Jones pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an assault charge after police say he hit a woman at a nightclub last week, the latest in a string of legal troubles hes had. An lawyer for Jones, 29, entered the plea a day after he was arrested and then released on his own recognizance. He attended the start of the Bengals training camp Tuesday and worked out with the team in the afternoon, but declined to comment. Jones is accused of hitting a 34-year-old woman at a downtown Cincinnati nightclub Wednesday shortly before midnight. A police report lists the injury as apparently minor. Jones attorney, Edward Perry, declined to comment. "The situation Adam Jones is in obviously is not something you want to get involved in," coach Marvin Lewis said. "Its unfortunate that hes in this situation. Thats really about all I can add to it." Surveillance video of altercation, obtained by a local radio station and verified as authentic by Cincinnati police, appears to show Jones approaching two seated women outside the club. Then, a third woman approaches Jones and appears to confront him. The grainy video shows the woman reach toward Jones face but its unclear what she does or whether shes holding anything in her hand. Jones then appears to hit the woman, who falls to the ground but quickly gets up and follows Jones off-camera as another man with him ushers him away. The woman in the video, identified by police as 34-year-old Shannon Wesley, did not return a call for comment. Jones could be punished by the National Football League under its conduct policy. Spokesman Greg Aiello said the league would review the latest arrest when appropriate. Jones wasnt suspended for an arrest in July 2011, when he was accused of being disorderly, shouting profanities and trying to puull away as officers arrested him at a bar in downtown Cincinnati. cheap jerseys online. As part of an agreement to settle that case, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour count of disorderly conduct in Hamilton County Municipal Court and was sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service. Hed stayed out of trouble until his latest arrest. Last year, he was ordered to pay $11 million in damages to two Las Vegas strip club employees injured in 2007 when a gunman claiming he was doing Jones bidding opened fire outside the club after Jones and his entourage were kicked out. A club manager was paralyzed from the waist down and a bouncer was wounded. Jones said he had no role in the shooting and pleaded an equivalent of no contest to misdemeanour conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct. The gunman, Arvin Kenti Edwards, is serving four to 10 years in prison. Jones got into a lot of trouble early in his career. The cornerback was the sixth overall pick in 2005 but repeatedly had off-field issues with Tennessee, resulting in suspensions. He missed the entire 2007 season on suspension and sat out the 2009 season when no team was interested. The Bengals gave him another chance and he has taken advantage of it, developing into their third cornerback and punt returner. Instead of being a distraction, hes blended into one of the leagues top defences. Cincinnati finished sixth last season in yards allowed. Hes also become close to some of the other defensive players. "I didnt know much about him before, but hes been one of my best friends since a little while after he got here," cornerback Leon Hall said. "We kind of meshed. We live not too far from each other. We dont have the same personality, but weve clicked pretty well. Hes been a pleasure for me ever since he came out here." ' ' '

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