[December 14, 2013]OKLAHOMA CITY — There was a time
when the Los Angeles Lakers came to Oklahoma to take on the Thunder that
it was the most anticipated game of the season. With guard Kobe Bryant
leading the charge, there was guaranteed fireworks in store.
However, it was a different Lakers team that pulled into Oklahoma
City on Friday and the Thunder, led by forward Kevin Durant,
trounced LA 122-97 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The loss dropped the Lakers (10-12) to 0-3 since Bryant returned to
"Tonight was a tough team," Bryant said. "They are a tough team to
match up against — their size and their speed. We ran into a bit of
a buzzsaw tonight. But we have another one tomorrow."
Durant had a game-high 31 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field
to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in 31
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka chipped in with 19 points and 10
rebounds. Guard Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple-double and
finished with 19 points. 12 assists and eight rebounds.
"Obviously, they'd rather me (shoot 3-pointers) than drive to the
basket," Westbrook said. "But if they keep doing that, they're gonna
The Lakers (10-12) got 14 points and seven rebounds from center Pau
Bryant had 13 points but scored only four points on 2-of-6 shooting
from the field in 23 minutes. The Lakers dropped to 0-3 since Bryant
returned to the lineup.
"He'll fill the gap and get better," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni
said. "I think he's gotten better every game. There were some really
good things he did."
With the Lakers having no healthy point guards available, Bryant was
forced into double duty to start the night. In only his third game
back from rehabbing a torn Achilles, he not only had to run the
offense but was assigned the task of guarding Westbrook.
However, after Westbrook scored a quick seven points, Lakes coach
Mike D'Antoni switched Bryant off of Westbrook to rookie guard Andre
But it was Durant who had the hot hand early. The NBA's leading
scorer collected 12 points to give Oklahoma City a 38-28 lead after
Guards Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks led the Lakers on a surge and
closed the Thunder's lead to six. Johnson came off the bench looking
for his shot from behind the arc and scored 11 points before
Oklahoma was able to doing anything about it.
However, the Thunder responded with a 15-2 run keyed by Durant and
reserve guard Reggie Jackson.
Near the end of the first half, Bryant tried to guard Durant the
entire length of the court before a foul was called. Both exchanged
laughs after the whistle.
"Kobe is the ultimate competitor," Durant said. "I knew he
was going to do that. He was going to challenge. With a guy like
Kobe, if I don't accept the challenge, I'm going to hear about
it for a while."
Throughout the first half, Bryant played facilitator, trying to
get the rest of his team involved. In doing so, he took only two
shots from the field in entire half as Oklahoma City opened a
66-51 advantage. Oklahoma City set a season high for points
scored in the first half. The previous best was 64 against
The second half was more of the same as Oklahoma City didn't let
up. The Thunder pushed their lead to 20 heading into the fourth
quarter and then benched their starters.
The Lakers had no answer for the any of the Thunder's big three
or their role players. It was a complete and total route of a
team that once was considered a benchmark.
Oklahoma City (18-4) moved to 11-0 at home. It joined the
Indiana Pacers as the only tams in the NBA that have yet to lose
"You have to give them credit," Durant said. "They came out
really strong — confident and making shots. We just had to be
better. We got a steal and a dunk. I think it ignited us,
especially with our crowd."
NOTES: When Lakers G Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon at the
end of last season, many didn't know if he would ever play in
the NBA again. Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant was not one of them.
"Kobe's just a fierce competitor," Durant said. "I didn't even
think twice about him coming back and how he would be or if he
would lose a step." ... While on the Arsenio Hall Show on
Tuesday, NFL great Jim Brown made a few comments about Bryant,
including how because "he was brought up in another country,
(Bryant) doesn't quite fit what's happening in America." Bryant
responded Thursday on Twitter: "A "Global" African American is
an inferior shade to "American" African Americans?? #hmm.. that
doesn't sound very #Mandela or #DrKing sir." ... Oklahoma City G
Thabo Sefolosha missed his third straight game with a sprained
right knee. ... Thunder coach Scott Brooks described G Russell
Westbrook as an unfriendly competitor. "Russell is a very
competitive guy," Brooks said. "Russell, he doesn't like a lot
of opponents as you guys know. He's not a friendly type of
competitor. He wants to beat you."