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Westbrook’s stellar first half helps Thunder bury the Lakers

Dec 8, 2012, 12:44 AM EDT

Russell Westbrook, Darius Morris

The Lakers weren’t expected by anyone to go into Oklahoma City on Friday and take down a Thunder team that was not only playing its best basketball of the young season, but was also riding a six-game winning streak.

But it didn’t have to go down like this.

Russell Westbrook destroyed the Lakers with a 27-point first half, where he drained a career-high five three-pointers while also managing to dish out five assists. Oklahoma City put up 67 points in the game’s first two quarters, running out to a lead that L.A.wouldn’t be able to come back from on the way to a 114-108 victory, the Thunder’s seventh straight.

Westbrook was in full attack mode, and while he did have a vicious dunk or two, his aggressiveness resulted in hot outside shooting of pull-up jumpers from all distances. He’s among the fiercest players in the game when he gets going, and he was rolling unlike any other time we’ve seen from him in the recent past.

As we continue to try to dissect the Lakers struggles, this game was once again proof that it’s all about the defense. No one on L.A.’s roster can contain Westbrook individually, but the team’s schemes and rotations remained a step slow, and allowed easy buckets even when Westbrook cooled off considerably in the second half.

Westbrook was just 2-of-10 from the field for six points after the break, but by then, the damage was done. And, unlike Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, Westbrook has help when the shots stop falling, in the form of the league’s leading scorer over the past few years in Kevin Durant.

Durant had 18 second half points to keep the party going for the Thunder, who also got sound performances from Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison that the Lakers couldn’t find a way to answer.

Bryant finished with 35 points and seven assists, but committed five turnovers and connected on just 11 of his 24 field goal attempts. It was the sixth straight time the Lakers lost when Braynt has scored 30 or more points, and that’s in no way a coincidence — when the offense stagnates, Bryant gets impatient and takes matters into his own hands.

Dwight Howard had 10 rebounds in the first period, five of which were offensive that helped L.A. to eight second chance points that allowed them to hang close, if only for a quarter. But he finished with just eight more the entire game, mainly because there weren’t many rebounds to be had with the Thunder making half of their shots.

If there was a bright spot for the Lakers in this blowout of a contest that showed just how far away the team is from true title contention, it’s the fact that there was no intentional fouling of Howard, and at least for one night, the “Hack-A-Dwight” nonsense was left on the shelf.

That’s really more due to the quality of L.A.’s opponent, however, because a superior team that has no trouble beating the Lakers doesn’t need to resort to such questionable tactics.

The Thunder simply did what was expected on Friday, although Westbrook made sure that the win came with a power and a fury that should stick with the Lakers for quite some time. Meanwhile, L.A. now has 48 more minutes of game film from which to teach, and defensively, the lessons to be learned right now seem limitless.

  1. progress2011 - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Went back thru some of the posts from the time the Fakers acquired Howard and Nash….folk were talking about 70 wins…….ahahahahahah!!!

    Now we got NOTHIN but excuses:

    1. Its the coaches fault…Brown was fired
    2. Gasols fault (eventhough he is not getting touches)
    3. Howards fault because he isn’t making free throws ….dude ain’t never made free throws, SURPRISE
    4. It’s because Nash is hurt ….what do you expect, dude is ancient

    Your problem is And1/ Harlem GlobeTrotter/ Wanna-Be-Like-Mike….won’t pass the friggin ball !

    ahahahaha….70 wins…..ahahahaha

    • pukpokito - Dec 8, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      Yeah that’s right.Rub it in.I can’t stand them.I am glad the Thunder can kick their behinds.Reports have it Kobe was talking to Westbrook during practices at the Olympics and how it could make a conflict with Durant.check this report out:

      Why Kevin Durant and Russ Westbrook were, and will be, fired up every time they play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers this season: source says the Black Mamba talked relentless smack during the Olympics that the Thunder stars weren’t going back to the Finals after the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and then added Dwight Howard right before the U.S. played Spain for the gold medal.Kobe also made a point of guarding Westbrook during practices and pumping him up, the theory being that he wanted to incite Russ to bump heads with KD over who the team’s best player is. (If you think that’s too conspiratorial to be real, you don’t know Kobe.) KD, in particular, got tired of hearing him.

      Lastly did you read the latest excuse? They played last night without Nash and Gasol. ok.Play again in January and have your decapitated heads handed to last night.

  2. cosanostra71 - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:06 AM

    Lakers need to bring effort all four quarters.

    • progress2011 - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:35 AM

      Basketball “FUNDAMENTAL ” tip:

      The other four guys on the court will typically give maximum effort, “IF” they get regular touches.

      Many players play within a rhythmic flow. If they go LONG stretches of just running up and down the court, they become disengaged and their rhythm is affected, which will affect shots and even their team defense.

      Hence, the Fakers are 1 and 8, when wanna-be-like-mike, scores 30+ points.

      That’s not a coincidence !

      Tip…….OUT !

      • kanemoney - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:08 AM

        You have no idea what you are talking about. He took 24 shots because no one else was hitting theirs. With Nash out, Pau out, and Metta World Peace as your third option – that’s not good.

        It’s not about offense anyway. If you allow an opponent to score 67 points in a half – you are nearly always going to lose. And this rolls right back up hill to the coach.

      • badintent - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:38 AM

        27 points in the first half ! Westbrook ! He be raining 3 s like the …….Knicks ! Sucker MC. Love it! Howard right ! no D ,no help, no sh*t. And Sh*t is what the Laker D is Matches their bench. Guess that Kobe threat ” I’ll kick everyone’s ass to get this team going ” fell on deft ears. At least Metta maned up with Obaka. You think if Kobe would do something like that with Durant or Russel , he might send a message, but no.
        Somewhere, Mike Brown is sitting with a Remy VSOP and smirking………

      • progress2011 - Dec 8, 2012 at 10:39 AM

        Fake Money,

        An excuse is an excuse….and you have one. Kinda like toilet bowls, we all have one and they all get filled with ‘ish.

        Fake MJ , regularly takes more shots than 3, other starters COMBINED. That won’t win most games.

        If wanna-be-like-mike had the ability to comprehend, his responsibilities as a “GUARD” he’d know part of his job is to get other players involved, early and often. Then he wouldn’t have to do all that Harlem Globetrotter stuff.

        If you can’t comprehend, it is a team game and one dude can’t take all the shots, then your toilet bowl is filled with more ‘ish than Non-Faker fans.

        Call a plumber to help ya out……ahahahaha

  3. mlblogsbig3bosox - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    I hate these late night recaps. They just don’t tell the true story behind most games.

    It’s true that the Lakers were burned in the 2nd quarter and the game was defined there, but I would call this game progress for LAL since they played right with the Thunder in the 1st and 3rd quarters and came back from 19 points down to make it a 5-point game with under a minute left in the 4th quarter.

    Jodie Meeks and Chris Duhon had very solid performances and they still played without Steve Nash and Pau Gasol against a Thunder team fully healthy. The Lakers are no way at the Thunder’s level of play right now but it’s progress and if these two teams meet in the playoffs it will be a great series.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:47 AM

      Meeks had a great game. Duhon is improving, and I think he will be a good backup for Nash once he is healthy again.

    • gopokes0714 - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:53 AM

      really seemed to be more of OKC letting off the gas, and playing a lot of their bench than the Lakers battling back.

      I used to hope that OKC would stay relevant long enough to make this a really good rivalry. Now I wonder if the Lakers can even keep the games competitive. The Thunder have won the last 6 meetings, and the gap is only getting wider.

      • eventhorizon04 - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:43 AM

        “really seemed to be more of OKC letting off the gas, and playing a lot of their bench than the Lakers battling back.”

        That’s half-right, in my opinion.
        Durant and Westbrook ended up playing for 44 and 40 minutes, respectively. That’s well above their season averages, so the Thunder actually played their bench LESS than normal this game, so it’s wrong to claim the Laker rally in the second half was due to the OKC bench getting more playing time at the expense of their stars.

        However, the Thunder did let up on the gas in the second half, and Coach Scott Brooks even said it himself: “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.”

  4. herlies - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    Lakers have three players making more money than Kevin Durant.

    That’s insane.

    • andrewproughcfe - Dec 8, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      That’s nearly criminal.

    • cpaulii - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      Lakers have Three Players with 8 championships ring to KD Zero, or to the whole Thunder team Zero..
      That’s insane…

      idiot !!!

      • scalfor3 - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        Lakers don’t have a single player with 8 rings you dum dum

  5. 00maltliquor - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    Is it just me (asking only Laker fans, no smartasses) or am I the only one that wants to take the oppertunity while Pau is out to start and play a minimum of 32 minutes for Jordan Hill?

    That guy brings it every game with the limited minutes he plays and is like a vacuum for rebounds. He is slowly becoming my favorite Laker (after Kobe, of course). I would really, really like to see that happen.

    • davidly - Dec 8, 2012 at 5:34 AM

      Yeah. Unfortunately for him, while Gasol is out, Jamison fits the offensive scheme better, and that’s what they fired Brown in order to implement.

  6. 00maltliquor - Dec 8, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    Is it just me (asking only Laker fans) or am I the only one that wants to take the oppertunity while Pau is out to start Jordan Hill and play him a minimum of 32 minutes?

    That guy brings it every game with the limited min. he plays and is like a vacuum for rebounds. He is slowly becoming my favorite Laker (after Kobe, of course). I would really, really like to see that happen.

    • davidly - Dec 8, 2012 at 5:36 AM

      Whoops, sorry. I answered even though I’m not a Laker fan. Still, I see your point, even if D’Antoni doesn’t.

  7. abchome - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    Phil’s making a list (of demands), and checking it twice!

    • badintent - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:40 AM

      Discount double check demands.

      • scalfor3 - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        if i could never see those f*cking ads ever again, i’d be cool with that

      • badintent - Dec 8, 2012 at 3:08 PM

        I feel your pain, I’m numbing it with a 40 year old Port. Try it.

  8. barkley4life - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    Perimeter defense and PG penetration, man I wonder where we have seen that before.

  9. eventhorizon04 - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    Interesting: “The Lakers dominated the Thunder on the glass, outrebounding them 45-36 and L.A. had a 44-38 advantage in points in the paint, but OKC ripped the Lakers on the fast break 28-8.”

    Even without Pau, the Lakers beat the Thunder in rebounding and paints in the point, but it didn’t matter, as the Thunder outran the Lakers.

    I think with Pau and Nash back, the Lakers will be much improved, but OKC will always have that fast-break advantage over the Lakers.

  10. barkley4life - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    Kobe brought it and Dwight played a good game as well but with two threats on the perimeter OKC just has the luxury to attack the Lakers weakness. Lakers best bet is that with Nash and Pau back they will be potent on offense and make buckets. Making shots stops transition offense and let’s you set your defense.

  11. dko83 - Dec 8, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    Just as long as Dwight doesn’t forearm shiver any of the Thunder when they are running them out of the gym this summer, consider it an upgrade.

  12. readysethike - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:14 AM

    that buzzer beater he hit after the first quarter was nice…then he turned around put his guns in his holster and was walkin like denzel haha

  13. lemfaxx - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Mr great. Please make a rule for NO-blowout game for the sake of the league. What spurs did last night is not right. Fsns will not happy for that sir

  14. omniusprime - Dec 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    Geez what a surprise that a talented young point guard torched the Lakers. Had Ancient Nash been in the game the result would have been worse since Nash can’t play defense. The only bright spot is that Steve Flake is injured so the young guards are getting plenty of game experience.

    The problem is that when Kobe has to score too much the team loses because the rest of the team gets bored with no offense so plays no defense. We have yet another ignorant coach who doesn’t understand this. Dumbtoni is proving to be nearly as clueless as Clueless Clown Brown. As long as this farce of a coach keeps sitting on the Laker bench giving the team stupid advice then the Lakers are doomed to another disappointing playoff performance, if they make the playoffs.

    Time to fire the little idiot buss boy and bring in his much more intelligent sister, Jeanie, to run the Laker show. Time to fire Dumbtoni and bring back Phil Jackson if the Lakers want to win a championship.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! We Want Phil!!!

  15. isujames - Dec 8, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    I love it, the lakers are in trouble with or without nash if they don’t make some serious changes.

    • pukpokito - Dec 8, 2012 at 12:30 PM


  16. therealgts - Dec 8, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Paging lakrluvr……

    • pukpokito - Dec 8, 2012 at 12:32 PM


  17. lemfaxx - Dec 8, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Can the stern league put limit on FG per player in a game. Thats boring to watch a 1 man show. Fans paid to watch a whole team. He can do that right???

  18. andrewproughcfe - Dec 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I was watching the game, and thinking “all of a sudden, Andrew Bynum’s years in LA don’t seem so bad after all”. I don’t like Howard’s spacing on defense – Andrew was much more of a back-to-the-basket defender, and altered a lot of shots. Howard seems to be chasing people around too much – he needs to pick a spot near the basket and punish anyone who comes into range.

  19. barkley4life - Dec 8, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    So Lounge doesn’t comment after losses? Lmao INTERNET TROLL

  20. sdlakerfan - Dec 8, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Hats off the the Thunder!!! KD and RW are amazing and Ibaka’s game has improved. From a Laker fan’s perspective there were some bright points and I saw progress. Duhon, Meeks, Hill are getting better and Kobe and Dwight were decent. Kobe gets burned too often when he strays on defense. We may look back on this period with a few injuries as a blessing in disguise in that the bench is improving. In any case, Lakers will be in the playoffs and will be a nightmare for any other team in the WC with OKC being the only possible exception.

  21. lakerdownunder - Dec 8, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    We need to keep the result from both sides in perspective. The Lakers lose by 6 (although that’s a little flattering) but only lost ONE quater of the four. They did this without their starting point gard and power forward, plus their reserve point guard. On top of that you have the Thunder playing at home with their two stars having crazy nights.

    Imagine if the Lakers were at home and had all players fit and the Thunder were without two KEY starters and a key reserve.

    As a Laker fan you always want to see them win, but I’m much more concerned with other losses we’ve had than this one.

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