Lakers bring out the best in Russell Westbrook

Westbrook's hometown team usually brings out the best in him. The Lakers or Kobe Bryant, whichever the case may be.
by Berry Tramel Published: December 13, 2013

The Lakers were in town Friday night.

You know what that means. Russell Westbrook's time to shine.

Westbrook's hometown team usually brings out the best in him. The Lakers or Kobe Bryant, whichever the case may be.

The Thunder routed the Lakers 122-97, a verdict so one-sided that Westbrook, along with Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, took off the fourth quarter. Otherwise, Westbrook would have been in triple double land.

Instead, Westbrook settled for 19 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists and the knowledge that he again made Kobe, his one-time hero and one-time Olympic teammate, marvel at Westbrook's game.

“The Lakers is a legendary team,” Westbrook said. “It's fun playing against them.”

Fun playing against Kobe, too. Since his rookie year, Westbrook is averaging 22.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists against the Lakers. His last five games against LA, Westbrook is averaging 26.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 9.6 assists.

Scotty Brooks figures he knows from where that production comes. Westbrook's drive.

“He's as fierce of a competitor as you will find in this league,” said Foreman Scotty.

Similar, in fact, to Kobe. Brooks likened Westbrook's demeanor — “Russell's a very competitive guy. Russell doesn't like a lot of opponents. He's not a friendly type of competitor.” – to Kobe's.

“Both very competitive,” Brooks said. “Russell, he's as competitive as anybody I've ever been around.”

Of course, Friday night was not a fair fight. This was just Kobe's third game back from an Achilles tendon tear last spring. The decimated Lakers had to play Kobe at point guard, and he was content to pass. Kobe had 13 assists and just four points. That's two points fewer than Kendrick Perkins scored for the Thunder, and Kobe had about as much elevation as Gran Torino.

“Obviously, right now, he's working his way back, getting back to where he was,” Westbrook said with considerable decorum.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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