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Lakers had no answer for Russell Westbrook

THUNDER 119, LAKERS 90 — Oklahoma City rolls in Game 1 behind its point guard's dominance. Not even the great Kobe Bryant could slow Russell Westbrook.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 15, 2012

For two years, the Los Angeles Lakers figured they had an answer for Russell Westbrook.

They thought they could sic their All-NBA defender on Oklahoma City's Tasmanian devil of a point guard and eliminate their biggest matchup problem.

Might be time they think again.

When Los Angeles walked into Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday night, the Lakers ran into a different Russell Westbrook. This version has grown, bigger, faster, stronger and smarter than he was two seasons ago. And once he got going, the Lakers had nothing, and most importantly, no one who could slow him down.

The Thunder thumped the Lakers 119-90 in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series behind Westbrook's all-around dominance.

Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting. He pulled down seven rebounds, dished out nine assists and turned it over just once in 27 minutes.

Seven seconds in, Westbrook set the tone by snatching the first of his two steals on the night. On this one, he jumped a Ramon Sessions entry pass into Pau Gasol and sparked a fast break that led to a Thabo Sefolosha layup. On the next Thunder possession, Westbrook found Kevin Durant for a driving, stretching, left-handed dunk over Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

By the time Westbrook buried his first two shots, both pull-up jumpers, it was clear it would be his night.

And it had become just as obvious that Lakers guard Kobe Bryant no longer could check Westbrook the way he had when these two teams locked horns in the opening round two years ago.

“I just feel a little more experienced,” Westbrook said when asked how this Game 1 felt different from his playoff debut in 2010. “I feel a lot more comfortable. My teammates do a great job of getting me open and getting me to the spots where I can be effective. I'm just feeling a lot more comfortable. This is my fourth year now.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
Assist Editor/ NBA Coordinator
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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