Yeah, I know: the Thunder beat these Lakers just last Saturday, by forty freaking points. But Kobe was out. Tonight Kobe was in, and for a scary period in the second quarter, he was on: 17 points in the first half, more than anyone else on the court, pushing Los Angeles to a three-point lead in that quarter. But the Thunder were back up 11 at halftime, and then OKC opened the third quarter with a 22-0 run. Yeah, Durant and Westbrook, Westbrook and Durant. But at that point, when it was 79-46, the biggest plus on the plus/minus was Andre Roberson, then a startling +47, who’d had three assists, four rebounds, two steals and ten points. And then Kobe finally scored, 5:39 into the third quarter. By the time the horn sounded, it was 91-60; the fourth quarter was almost anticlimactic. Thunder 120, Lakers 85, and this brief California trip comes out 2-0.
The Lakers did have a few things to boast. With Lou Williams barely able to buy a bucket, rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell got extra minutes and double figures — 18 points, one short of Kobe Bryant — and occasional D-Leaguer Ryan Kelly came up with 12 points in 12 minutes. In fact, the bench produced 46 of the 79 Laker points. But the Thunder were dominant and then some: 54 percent shooting versus 36; 61 rebounds over 35; and the only double-double of the night, Enes Kanter’s, with 16 points and 11 boards. Robertson? Career-high 15 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, three assists, two steals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who spent the fourth quarter together on the bench, had 21 and 23 points respectively.
Next four Thunder games at home, starting Christmas Day, and I do mean day — tipoff is 1:30 — against Chicago, followed at two-day intervals by Denver, Milwaukee and Phoenix. (The Suns on New Year’s Eve. That sounds semi-portentous.) And who knows? Maybe the Warriors will lose one by then, though that’s probably not the way to bet.