Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Miroslav Raduljica, after being waived by Clippers, not ready to return to Europe

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Miroslav Raduljica Miroslav Raduljica

    Raduljica deserves another NBA contract following adequate rookie year

  2. Petteri Koponen, seven years after getting drafted in first round, still planning jump to NBA

    Sep 2, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    BASKET-EURO-2013-FIN-SLO BASKET-EURO-2013-FIN-SLO

    Mavericks hold draft rights to Finnish point guard who’s under contract with Russian team

  3. Team USA responds to New Zealand’s haka with blank stares (video)

    Sep 2, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Kenneth Faried, Tai Webster, Rob Loe Kenneth Faried, Tai Webster, Rob Loe

    Derrick Rose, James Harden and Kenneth Faried appeared stunned by traditional pregame dance

  4. Warriors sign James Michael McAdoo, Mitchell Watt

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    North Carolina v Duke Getty Images

    Golden State also announces signing of Aaron Craft, who previously reached deal

  5. Report: Washington Wizards contact Ray Allen, too

    Sep 2, 2014, 6:36 PM EDT

    Miami Heat's Allen celebrates a three point shot against the Indiana Pacers during Game 7 of their NBA Eastern Conference final basketball playoff in Miami Reuters

    Can’t blame a team for trying, I guess.

  6. Manny Pacquiao works out at Warriors facility

    Sep 2, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    Pacquio

    I think the Warriors are pretty set at the guard spot, but he would had some toughness.

  7. Anthony Davis was throwing it down on New Zealand (VIDEO)

    Sep 2, 2014, 4:13 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis, Casey Frank AP

    When big men run the floor hard, good things happen.

  8. USA sails past New Zealand for easy 98-71 win behind Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried

    Sep 2, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    Team USA was supposed to be a perimeter-based team, but through three games the bigs are stealing the show.

  9. Stephen Curry will not stand for ‘slander’ of his Under Armour shoes

    Sep 2, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Curry fired back on Twitter to someone who made a joke at the expense of his shoes.

  10. Derrick Rose ‘fine’ with coming off the bench for Team USA

    Sep 2, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Rose was originally penciled in as the starter, but Kyrie Irving has been more deserving thus far.

  11. Pau Gasol shreds Brazil at FIBA World Cup (VIDEO)

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:37 AM EDT

    pau gasol spain olympics Getty Images

    This should make Bulls fans extremely happy.

  12. Anderson Varejao, entering contract year, says he wants to remain with Cavaliers

    Sep 2, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT

    Anderson Varejao AP

    Cleveland, now with championship aspirations, may not feel the same way.

  13. Timofey Mozgov not pushing to leave Nuggets in trade to Cavaliers

    Sep 2, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

    Timofey Mozgov, Anderson Varejao Timofey Mozgov, Anderson Varejao

    Mozgov could play with LeBron James, for David Blatt (his Russian national team coach)

  14. Jodie Meeks wants to bring some Kobe Bryant work ethic to Detroit

    Sep 2, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    The young Pistons could use this kind of locker room leader.

  15. Ray Allen on making a decision about next season: “I’m not in any rush”

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:59 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Four Getty Images

    “I’ve played 18 years, and the way I look at my career, I’m content with everything that I’ve done. I just want to take this summer and see how it goes.” —Ray Allen

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3504)
  2. K. Bryant (2526)
  3. T. Mozgov (2510)
  4. R. Rondo (2439)
  5. R. Allen (2354)
  1. L. James (2272)
  2. J. Embiid (2245)
  3. K. Love (2223)
  4. A. Davis (2208)
  5. C. Delfino (2105)