A Lakers-Thunder game inevitably becomes Kobe Bryant vs. Kevin Durant, or so it’s seemed through the two this season. (There will be a third, at the Ford Center in March.) This sort of comparison isn’t fair to the other players, of course, but our eyes are drawn to the superstars, which Bryant certainly is and which Durant almost inevitably will be.
So: Bryant 36, Durant 32. Experience pays. The Lakers won it 107-93, though the Thunder came within one point early in the fourth quarter before L. A. tightened up the defense and Kobe, who was mostly quiet in the first half, came on strong.
Once again, Oklahoma City was all rebound, no shoot: they got half again as many rebounds as the Lakers (45-30), but they connected on only 41.8 percent from the floor versus 52.6. Thabo Sefolosha started at the two; in half an hour, he got seven points, three rebounds and two assists. Meanwhile, Kyle Weaver, who was dislodged from the starting lineup by the Thabster, got 16 off the bench, including three of four treys. Go figure. Jeff Green missed the double-double — 10 points, nine boards — and Nenad Krstić hauled in 11 rebounds but managed only five points.
And I must be careful not to be too Kobe-centric here: at the half, when the Lakers were up 12, the points were almost evenly distributed. (Every man a threat; this is how you go 47-10.) Pau Gasol stood his post for 44 minutes, grabbing 8 boards and 14 points. The Laker bench contributed a modest 26 points, but then the Thunder bench had only 25, and, as noted, 16 of those came from Weaver.
Two at home, and suddenly it’s March and two on the road. The Dallas Mavericks figure into two of those games, one here, one there.