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Lakers will play Oklahoma City in first round of NBA playoffs

The Thunder will be seeded eighth in the playoffs after losing to Portland on Monday night.

April 12, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers had their way with Oklahoma City this season, winning three of four games against their first-round opponent.

But the Thunder beat the Lakers last month, 91-75, finally ending a 12-game losing streak to the Lakers that extended back to the franchise's days in Seattle.

Three of Oklahoma City's top four players are younger than 24, setting up an aging-vs.-ageless match-up: Forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook are 21, while power forward Jeff Green is 23.

"There's a lot of youth and enthusiasm and talent in Oklahoma City," Minnesota Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis said. "There's excitement about them making the playoffs this year. It's such a brand-new experience for all the players and coaching staff and the town. It'll be crazy there.

"But the Lakers have so much playoff experience. They know how intense and physical the game is going to become. The Lakers have seen all of that and Oklahoma City hasn't been in that environment yet. They have youth, athleticism and freshness on their side, but inexperience is going to be a factor out there."

Regular-season breakdown:

Lakers 101, Thunder 98 (OT): Kobe Bryant shook off a fever to score 31 points and Andrew Bynum had 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting in a Nov. 3 victory at Ford Center.

Lakers 101, Thunder 85: Bryant (26 points) and Bynum (25 points) were again the winning one-two combo Nov. 22 at Staples Center.

Lakers 101, Thunder 98: Bryant had 40 points as the Lakers barely held off the Thunder in a Dec. 22 game at Staples Center.

Thunder 91, Lakers 75: Former UCLA guard Russell Westbrook had 23 points in a March 26 victory at Ford Center that snapped the Thunder's 12-game losing streak to the Lakers, a run dating back to the franchise's days in Seattle.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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