Wed, May 16, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Thunder crush Lakers in opener

ON TARGET:Well-rested Oklahoma City had 53 percent shooting from the floor and they led by as many as 35 points before recording a 119-90 win against Los Angeles

AFP, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden, front right, goes up for a dunk past Jordan Hill of the Los Angeles Lakers, front left, in the second half of Game 1 of their Western Conference semi-final playoff series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points and Kevin Durant added 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 post-season.

Andrew Bynum finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while 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.

Game 2 is scheduled for today in Oklahoma City.

Westbrook said he expects the Lakers to come out in Game 2 with a chip on their shoulder.

“Game 2 should be a little more physical,” he said.

Oklahoma City led by 15 points at halftime and they 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,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We held each other accountable on defense.”

Brooks said the key was stopping Laker stars Bynum and Bryant.

“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.

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.

Oklahoma City won the first two regular-season contests against Los Angeles by 15 points and nine, before Los Angeles rebounded to win the final meeting in double-overtime.

World Peace was booed loudly during the pre-game introductions on Monday and was not a factor in the game, shooting four-of-10 and grabbing just two rebounds.

Asked about the booing on Monday, World Peace said: “Right now, it is just about basketball.”

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