For a five-minute span in the second quarter, Kobe Bryant looked like the MVP of old, hitting everything from a baseline fadeaway to a jumper while being fouled by Russell Westbrook. That surge turned an early 15-point deficit into a three-point lead, but it proved to be fool’s gold for the Lakers.
Oklahoma City (20-9) ended the half on a 14-2 run and then opened up the next quarter by rolling off 22 unanswered points in its 120-85 romp over the purple and gold Wednesday night.
"The gates opened up and the horses ran out," Bryant said. "That third quarter was crazy. (They) just blistered us. The athleticism, the speed; they got ahead and we were just catching up the entire way."
Bryant scored 13 points during L.A.’s lead-stealing sprint, but managed just six points on 3-of-17 shooting through the rest of the night.
Meanwhile, the Thunder’s stars put on a show, as Westbrook racked up 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Kevin Durant — who matched up both ways against Bryant — shot 7-of-9 to reach 21 points.
“I challenged him, he challenged me,” Durant said of Bryant. “Nobody backed down. That’s great basketball right there. That’s all you want.”
Los Angeles (5-24) was repeatedly hammered down low, as it was outscored in the paint, 76-32, and outrebounded, 61-35.
Oklahoma City built a lead as large as 38 points, as it shot 53.7 percent, while holding the Lakers to 36.0 percent.
“(The Thunder’s) intensity was at a different level,” head coach Byron Scott said four days after his team lost by 40 in Oklahoma City. “For us, we just can’t get to that level right now. That is just the honest-to-goodness truth.
“They had a different gear that they went to. … That’s one of those games that you look at and say, ‘We’re going to get beat.’”
Playing without Nick Young (gastroenteritis) and Julius Randle (ankle), the Lakers could not find anybody to complement Bryant’s scoring. D’Angelo Russell added 18 points, but a dozen of them came in the uncompetitive second half.
Enes Kanter (16 points, 11 rebounds) had the game’s lone double-double. … Andre Roberson scored a career-high 15 points with four blocks. … The Lakers were outscored by 47 with Lou Williams on the floor, giving him the third-worst plus/minus in the last 20 years, per ESPN Stats & Info. … A crowd of 18,997 sold out Staples Center.