Monday night, Bryant was no match.
“I thought he was good,” said Lakers coach Mike Brown. “I thought he was good in pick-and-rolls early on. And then I thought he was good in the post as the game went along. So he had a great performance on both ends of the floor.”
Going into the series, Bryant appeared to be a sufficient answer for slowing Westbrook. Even in the last regular season meeting between these two teams, Bryant helped to hold Westbrook to a 3-for-22 shooting night in L.A.'s eight-point double overtime win.
With Lakers bulldog defender Metta World Peace attached to Durant, it seemed James Harden would be the matchup nightmare for the Lakers this time around.
But Westbrook's decision-making and pace quickly proved he's still a problem for L.A.
Perhaps most impressive was Westbrook's assist-to-turnover ratio. His nine assists against one turnover mirrored his team's effort in a department that has been problematic all season.
But in Game 1, the Thunder had 20 assists and just four turnovers.
“We played good basketball,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Like I told the guys, it's one game. It's the first team to four that will win this series. And come Wednesday night, regardless of you won by one or 20, it doesn't have an impact on Wednesday night. We have to come back with the same energy. We know the Lakers are going to play much better.”