Westbrook, Thunder top struggling Lakers
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers simply couldn't keep up with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder's dynamic duo combined for 69 points en route to a 114-108 victory more one-sided than the final score indicated.
Westbrook scored 27 of his 33 points in a first half that saw him drain a career-high five 3-pointers. Westbrook also handed out eight assists, while Durant totaled 36 points and nine rebounds in Oklahoma City's seventh straight win.
"That was a solid win. We had some very good stretches, but then in the second half we had some not so good stretches. We relaxed some on defense in the second half," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard kept the Lakers somewhat competitive. Bryant finished with 35 points on 11-of-24 shooting, while Howard added 23 points and 18 rebounds in the loss, LA's sixth in nine games.
The rematch of last season's Western Conference semifinal again showed Los Angeles struggling to match Oklahoma City's athleticism, especially with Pau Gasol sitting out for the second straight game with a knee injury.
The Lakers actually led, 27-26, at the end of the first quarter, then stood by as innocent bystanders as the Thunder erupted for 41 points in the second quarter, with Westbrook and Durant netting 14 apiece.
Westbrook, who ended the first frame with a leaning 3-pointer as time expired, ignited a 10-0 run midway through the second with a three-point play and finished the flurry by hooking up with Durant on an alley-oop.
A 9-0 run -- fueled by seven points from Westbrook -- pushed the difference to 63-47 with under two minutes left, and the do-it-all point guard brought the home crowd to its feet a minute later with 3-pointer while being fouled. The rare four-point play helped the hosts cruise into the break with a 67-53 cushion.
The Thunder shot 68 percent (15-of-22) from the field in the second and made all seven of their free throws in their highest scoring frame of the season.
"They're a good team and I thought the first half, really the second quarter, Westbrook got loose a little bit, but we fought back and I thought we played hard," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "When Westbrook does that, going vertical and stopping on a dime, you kind of just have to tip your hat to him."
The difference ranged from 13 to 19 points in the third, which ended with Oklahoma City ahead, 89-75.
It remained a double-digit affair until Chris Duhon drained a 3-pointer to pull within 107-98 with 2:19 remaining. A pair of Jodie Meeks buckets followed by another Duhon trey cut the deficit to 110-105 with 20.7 seconds showing, but the Thunder made enough free throws to come away victorious.
Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison donated 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Thunder, who shot 49 percent from the field and 9-of-17 from 3-point range ... Twenty of Oklahoma City's 28 fastbreak points came in the second quarter ... Oklahoma City has scored over 100 points in 11 straight games (10-1) ... The Thunder matched their longest win streak of last season ... Meeks scored 17 points off LA's bench ... Bryant has eclipsed 30 points nine times in 20 games this season.