Oklahoma City, OK – The Oklahoma City Thunder made an emphatic statement Monday, annihilating the title-tested Los Angeles Lakers, 119-90, in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
The Thunder, well-rested following an opening-round sweep of the defending champion Mavericks, led by as many as 35 in the rout thanks to 53 percent shooting and productive games by their All-Star duo and Sixth Man of the Year.
Russell Westbrook totaled 27 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while Kevin Durant added 25 points and eight boards for Oklahoma City, which got 17 points off the bench from James Harden.
"We did a great job taking care of the basketball," head coach Scott Brooks said, referring to the Thunder's four turnovers. "We're excited we got the win, but we're moving on."
Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant also netted 20 points, but Los Angeles was already looking forward to Wednesday's Game 2 by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.
Two days after winning a deciding Game 7 against the Nuggets, Los Angeles trailed by 15 at halftime and was outscored 39-24 in third.
A raucous Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd was spirited throughout, even showing their displeasure whenever Metta World Peace touched the ball. The Lakers forward was suspended seven games by the league after his vicious elbow caught an unsuspecting Harden in the head during the teams' last meeting on April 22.
World Peace returned Saturday and sparked LA to a first-round win, but it was Los Angeles taking an uppercut from the second-seeded Thunder on Monday.
A fast-paced first quarter ended with Oklahoma City's Daequan Cook rattling in a three-pointer for a 30-23 lead, and the Thunder reeled off nine of the last 11 points of the second to take a 59-44 cushion into the break.
The Thunder blew the doors open in the first four minutes of the third, hitting their first seven shots en route to an 18-4 flurry.
Kendrick Perkins gingerly threw down a dunk during the run and hobbled into the locker room to address a hip injury he suffered in the last series. It was the lone sour note in an otherwise seamless performance, most notably by Durant and Westbrook, against the third-seeded Lakers.
Durant drilled a 15-footer on the first possession of the third, tossed an alley-oop to Westbrook the next time down, then drained a three-pointer seconds later.
"Westbrook and Durant got loose for some mid-range jump shots that weren't contested as much as we wanted to," Lakers head coach Mike Brown said. "They got aggressive and started going downhill."
The 30-point differential entering the fourth resulted in the starters from both teams seeing limited minutes in the last quarter.
World Peace and Harden both went to the ground while battling for rebounding position early in the final quarter, but there was no confrontation.
The Lakers committed 15 turnovers...Pau Gasol, coming off a 23-point, 17- rebound performance in Game 7, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in just under 30 minutes...Lakers forward Devin Ebanks was ejected with 2:18 remaining in the fourth quarter for arguing with the referees...World Peace scored 12 points...The Thunder did not give up any fastbreak points...In the playoffs this rivalry dates back to 1978 when the Oklahoma City franchise was known as the Seattle SuperSonics. The Sonics beat the Lakers in 1978 and '79 when they reached the NBA Finals in both years. The franchise hasn't beaten them since, losing in 1980, '87, '89, '95 and '98 as well as 2010 as the Thunder.