The undermanned Los Angeles Lakers lost the second game of their back-to-back set, falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-85. The Lakers had moments of compettiventess in the first half, but were not able to get it together on either end of the floor during a third quarter in which the Thunder emphatically put the game away.
Kobe Bryant (19 points on 22 shots) continued his battle against Father Time, and began the game on the losing end when he went 1-7 in the first quarter. In the second period, however, Bryant showed a delirious Staples Center crowd flashes of the player he used to be on a consistent basis. Bryant scored 13 points on 5-8 shooting in the second quarter as he attempted to duel with Thunder superstars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who scored 14 points apiece in a first half after which the Lakers trailed 57-46.
That same Thunder duo broke the game open in the third quarter, ripping off a 22-0 run to begin the second half and put their foot down on the throat of a Lakers team left gasping for air. D'Angelo Russell led a 10-5 Lakers run after entering the game with 3:58 to play in the third quarter, but the Lakers were still outscored 35-15 in the period.
Russell was one of the few positives for the Lakers on a night Julius Randle (ankle) sat out with injury and Jordan Clarkson (10 points on 12 shots) struggled. The rookie point guard had the second highest plus-minus on the team (+13 in a 35 point loss) and scored 18 points on 16 shots (4-7 on three-pointers) to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 embarrassment of Kyle Singler.
In addition to Westbrook (23 points, 10-19 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists) and Durant (21 points, 7-9 shooting, 7 rebounds, and five assists), Serge Ibaka (17 points on 11 shots and 7 rebounds) and Andre Roberson (15 points on 9 shots, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks) played well for the Thunder in a dominant performance that made clear they are simply playing a different sport than the purple and gold this season. The Lakers will get one day to rest and recuperate from this beating before hosting the Los Angeles Clippers this Friday in the final game of Christmas Day.