Officials separate Lakers forward Metta World Peace and Thunder power… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Metta World Peace delivered the body blow and Kobe Bryant the knockout.
Bryant made a fadeaway jumper and a pair of free throws late in the second overtime Sunday afternoon at Staples Center to help the Lakers emerge with a testy 114-106 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Long after World Peace had been ejected for elbowing James Harden in the head late in the second quarter while celebrating a dunk, Bryant's heroics gave the Lakers their first victory over the Thunder and an important measure of momentum heading into the playoffs.
PHOTOS: Lakers vs. Thunder
Bryant's jumper gave the Lakers a 106-104 lead with 52 seconds left and his free throws increased the advantage to 108-104 with 36 seconds remaining.
The Lakers had been a combined 1-4 against Western Conference heavyweights Oklahoma City and the San Antonio Spurs before Sunday.
Bryant finished with 26 points on nine-for-26 shooting for the Lakers, who wiped out a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Devin Ebanks had a pair of crucial steals in the final minute of the second overtime and Jordan Hill provided a big lift off the bench with 14 points and 15 rebounds, far exceeding his previous cumulative production in a Lakers uniform.
Starting Lakers center Andrew Bynum did not play in the fourth quarter or in either overtime.
Kevin Durant had 35 points for Oklahoma City on a laborious 11-for-34 shooting. Initially galvanized by the absence of Harden, who did not return after taking the shot from Metta World Peace, the Thunder wilted in the fourth quarter.
Serge Ibaka had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder.
Thunder 97, Lakers 97 (end of first overtime)
The Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder apparently can't get enough of each other.
The teams are headed to a second overtime after Russell Westbrook's off-balance jumper at the end of the first overtime bounced off the rim.
The Lakers led by four points early in the extra period before the Thunder tied the score on layups by Kendrick Perkins and Westbrook.
The Lakers had a chance to go ahead in the final minute after Jordan Hill pulled down on offensive rebound, but Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant missed jumpers.
Hill has 14 points and 13 rebounds, playing largely in the absence of Andrew Bynum, who sat out the entire fourth quarter and first overtime. Bryant has 20 points on seven-for-23 shooting.
Kevin Durant has 26 points on eight-for-27 shooting for the Thunder, which is still without James Harden after the guard took an elbow to the head from Metta World Peace in the second quarter. World Peace, who was celebrating a dunk, was ejected from the game for a flagrant-two foul.
Lakers 91, Thunder 91 (end of regulation)
The Lakers finally made a statement after remaining mum for most of the first three quarters, wiping out a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime against Oklahoma City.
Kobe Bryant shook off a poor shooting performance to make a pair of three-pointers in the final 1 minute 20 seconds as part of a 21-7 Lakers run to close the fourth quarter.
Kevin Durant had a chance to win the game, but his shot at the end of regulation bounced off the side of the rim.
Steve Blake also made a pair of three-pointers to key the Lakers' surge. Bryant has 18 points on six-for-19 shooting.
Durant leads Oklahoma City with 26 points while Serge Ibaka has 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Curiously, Lakers Coach Mike Brown went with power forward Jordan Hill instead of starting center Andrew Bynum in the fourth quarter. Hill has 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Thunder 77, Lakers 61 (end of third quarter)
Galvanized by the absence of teammate James Harden, Oklahoma City reasserted its dominance over the Lakers in the third quarter.
The Thunder has outscored the Lakers, 29-14, since Harden took an elbow to the head from Metta World Peace late in the second quarter. Harden has not returned since collapsing to the floor from the blow that led to World Peace's ejection with a flagrant-two foul.
Kevin Durant has 21 points while Serge Ibaka has 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder, which is looking to sweep the season series with the Lakers.
In an indication of how poorly things are going for the Lakers, seldom-used reserve Jordan Hill has more points (10) as does Kobe Bryant (nine), and Hill needed only nine shots to get there. Bryant has taken 14 shots, making only three.
Thunder 52, Lakers 47 (halftime)
With one swing of his elbow, Metta World Peace might have forever changed the tenor of the Lakers-Oklahoma City rivalry.