Westbrook, Durant Power Thunder Past Lakers

Saturday, December 8th 2012, 12:38 am
By: News 9

At the beginning of the season, many were crowning the Los Angeles Lakers the team to beat in the West, some going as far to calling the best team in the NBA.

Oklahoma City, the reigning Western Conference champions were an afterthought, especially after the Thunder traded away James Harden to the Houston Rockets before the season even started.

Friday night, the Thunder reminded the NBA that the road to the NBA Finals still runs through Oklahoma City.

Russell Westbrook scored 33 points, 27 in the first half, including a season-high five three-pointers, as the Thunder rolled over the Lakers, 114-108 at The Peake.

The Thunder held a 13-point lead with 4:16 remaining in the game, but the Lakers closed the game on a 17-10 run to make the margin appear closer than it really was. OKC, the league's leader in team free-throw percentage, was able to put down the late rally at the charity stripe.

Westbrook started the game by hitting two threes on OKC's first two possessions, and things only got better from there. Westbrook hit a buzzer-beating three to end the first quarter, and had a four-point play with 45 seconds remaining in the first half to open up a 16-point lead for the Thunder.

Kevin Durant led all scorers with 36 points, hitting 14-of-16 from the free-throw line. Serge Ibaka added 14 points, while Nick Collison contributed 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench, with three drawn charges on defense.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points, dropping L.A.'s record to 1-8 when he scores 30 points or more, including six losses in a row. Dwight Howard had a monster game with 23 points and 18 rebounds, and Jodie Meeks had 17 points off the bench.

The first half was a tale of two quarters, with Howard dominating the paint for the Lakers in the opening 12 minutes to the tune of eight points and 10 rebounds, including five offensive boards. The Thunder doubled down on Howard consistently on the defensive end, but the efforts didn't do much to faze him.

OKC struggled to get things going on the offensive end, with the exception of Westbrook, who had 13 points in the first quarter with a trio of three-pointers, including the buzzer-beater to pull the Thunder within one, 27-26.

After three Meeks free throws made the score 37-35, the Thunder finally opened the offense up, going on a 17-3 run over the next four and a half minutes to build a 52-40 lead.

From there, it became the Westbrook show, as the lightning-quick point guard scored 11 of OKC's final 15 points of the half, staking the Thunder to a 67-53 lead at halftime.

OKC continued the offensive exhibition in the third quarter, opening up their biggest lead of 19 points with 3:33 remaining in the quarter on a Durant jumper.

Friday night's game was the first in a stretch of five home games for the Thunder. OKC will be back in action at The Peake on Sunday night when the Indiana Pacers come to town. Tip time is set for 6 p.m. as the Thunder look to extend their seven-game winning streak.