Lakers, minus Bryant, go 'missing' against Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY • The Kobe Bryant farewell tour made its way to Oklahoma City on Saturday and Thunder forward Kevin Durant was looking forward to facing the retiring National Basketball Association (NBA) legend.

But, when it was announced an hour before the game that Bryant would be sitting out with a sore shoulder, that took a little of the steam out of facing the struggling Los Angeles Lakers squad.

Despite that occurrence, Durant came out and scored 22 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 118-78 victory over the visitors at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"I lick my chops for whoever comes in," Durant said on not being able to face Bryant. "No matter who it is. But I try not to worry about it and just play my game."

A POOR GAME

Really just got embarrassed by the way we played tonight... it was pathetic in every area. We didn't come to compete and they just played harder than we did. It looked like we were just in awe of that team.

BYRON SCOTT, LA Lakers coach

He shot 7-of-13 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds in three quarters. Point guard Russell Westbrook scored 13 to go along with 11 assists while centre Enes Kanter added 19 points and 14 rebounds in 23 minutes to help Oklahoma City improve to 18-9.

"We just had to stay focused and keep doing what we do every night," Kanter said. "Come out ready and focus on what we need to focus on and do our job."

The Lakers were led by guard Lou Williams, who scored 20 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

Guard Jordan Clarkson had 15 points as LA dropped to 4-23.

"Really just got embarrassed by the way we played tonight," Lakers coach Byron Scott said.

"Like I told them, it was pathetic in every area. We didn't come to compete and they just played harder than we did.

"It looked like we were just in awe of that team."

Coming off a loss at Cleveland on Thursday, Oklahoma City did not want to double down with a defeat at the hands of the Lakers, who have the second-worst record in the NBA.

Durant was feeling it from the outset. He began the game draining his jumpers and driving to the hoop for lay-ups. That included spinning around Lakers forward Julius Randle on a baseline drive that he finished off with a dunk.

Durant finished the first quarter with 14 points as Oklahoma City raced to a 35-15 lead.

It only got worse from there for Los Angeles. Aside from Williams, none of the Lakers was able to get a basket on a consistent basis.

The Thunder did a good job of shutting down the Lakers, which allowed them to take a 67-41 half-time advantage.

Los Angeles could not get any closer as Oklahoma City essentially went through practice drills.

"That's what we need. Everybody touched the ball," Durant said.

"When everybody touches the ball, it makes you shift the defence.

"More times than not, that's in our favour."

Oklahoma City rested their starters in the fourth quarter and the Lakers were unable to do anything against the Thunder reserves.

The 40-point victory set a season high.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'Lakers, minus Bryant, go 'missing' against Thunder'. Print Edition | Subscribe