There is never a shortage of famous faces scattered throughout the Staples Center, but the biggest star in the City of Angels on Friday was unquestionably Kevin Durant.
Durant torched the undermanned Lakers with 42 points as the Thunder blasted Los Angeles 116-101, sending the Lakers to their first six-game losing streak since 2007.
The last play of the first half was the game in a nutshell. With the Thunder leading by 13, OKC had the ball out of bounds with 2.5 seconds remaining. Coach Scott Brooks drew up a beautiful inbounds play with Westbrook and Ibaka at the 3-point line, both cut in as Ibaka threw a brief screen while KD rolled out uncontested to receive the pass from Thabo Sefolosha, as three Laker defenders followed the cutters into the lane.
L.A.'s Earl Clark turned to sprint out toward Durant with his arm raised but it was too late, KD fired the shot and left his arm outstretched as the shot ripped through the net and sucked what life remained right out of the Staples Center.
This was Durant's night and the Lakers were powerless to stop him.
Including his half-capping 3-pointer, Durant scored 25 points through the first two quarters on 10-of-15 shooting and was a plus-27 in the first half alone. The teams were tied at 25 after the first quarter but Durant, Westbrook and Co. dominated the second quarter 39-23, not unlike the 41-26 second-quarter thumping in the Dec. 7 meeting that resulted in a 114-108 OKC victory.
But it was the third quarter where Durant really hammered the nails in the Lakers' coffin. KD scored 15 in the third alone on 5-of-7 shooting, getting to 40 points for the night before the four-minute mark of the quarter.
Had Durant played more than just a handful of minutes in the fourth -- most of which he spent trying to get teammates involved -- he could easily have gone for 50. But OKC didn't need him to as the majority of the Thunder starting lineup headed for the bench long before the final buzzer sounded with a cozy 27-point lead.
Westbrook also continued his dominance of the Lakers' guards, scoring 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting with 10 assists and seven rebounds on the night.
Kevin Martin added 15 off the bench to wrap up the double-figure scorers for OKC.
Kobe Bryant led the struggling Lakers with 28 points but they didn't come easy against Sefolosha. The NBA's leading scorer was just 8-of-23 from the floor and 2-of-8 from 3. Bryant did a decent portion of his scoring from the foul line, where he converted 10-of-13 attempts. The Lakers also got 19 points from Antawn Jamison off the bench and Earl Clark had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Adding insult to injury for L.A. on Friday was the announcement that reserve forward Jordan Hill is potentially done for the season with an injury, adding to the front court woes with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol already sidelined. With Friday's loss, the Lakers fell to 15-21 in a massively disappointing start to the season for a team believed to be a Western Conference favorite entering the 2012-13 campaign.
OKC, on the other hand, improved to 28-8 and remains in first place in the West. The Thunder will take on Portland in the second game of its three-game road trip on Sunday at 8 p.m. The Blazers are 20-16 following a 103-97 loss to Golden State on Friday.