Thunder humble Lakers in series opener

Thunder humble Lakers in series opener

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - Agence France-Presse
Thunder humble Lakers in series opener

Russell Westbrook (pictured) leads the Oklahoma City Thunder with 27 points, while Kevin Durant, the team’s main scoring threat, adds 25 points to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s big victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. AFP Photo

Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points and Kevin Durant had 25 points as Oklahoma City embarrassed the Los Angeles Lakers 119-90 in their NBA Western Conference second-round playoff series opener on Monday.

“We are a good team, especially at home,” Westbrook said. “I just tried to come out aggressively and get some good legs under me.” The well-rested Thunder led by as many as 35 points thanks to 53 percent shooting from the floor and superb performances from starters Westbrook, Durant and reserve guard James Harden, who finished with 17 points.

Westbrook added nine assists and seven rebounds, while Durant grabbed eight boards for the Thunder who scored the most points of any team in the postseason.

Andrew Bynum finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant had 20 points for the Lakers who looked tired on Monday as it took seven games and a series of struggles for them to eliminate the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

More physical

Game two is scheduled for tonight at Oklahoma City. Westbrook said he expects the Lakers to come out in game two with a chip on their shoulder.

“Game two should be a little more physical,” he said.

Oklahoma City led by 15 points at the half and outscored the Lakers 39-24 in the third quarter in front of a crowd of 18,203 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. “We did a good job of taking care of the basketball,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We held each other accountable on defence.” Brooks said the key was stopping Laker stars Bynum and Bryant.

‘One of the best’

“Kobe Bryant is one of the best players ever to play this game and we did a good job of making him take tough shots,” Brooks said. “We also did a good job of not giving Bynum any easy shots.”

The Thunder knocked the Dallas Mavericks out of the playoffs with four straight wins, completing the first series sweep of the defending champions in the first round since the Miami Heat were dismissed in 2007.

Oklahoma City and Los Angeles are familiar with each other, having played three times during the regular season, including as recently as April 22 when Metta World Peace was suspended for seven games after his elbow to the head of Harden. World Peace was booed loudly during the pre-game introductions and was largely disappointing, shooting four-of-10 and grabbing just two rebounds.