“My job was to try to keep us in the game, regardless of what was going on,” Westbrook said. “I was kind of upset because we weren't able to get a stop. It kind of felt like we were down 10, eight, 10, eight. We just kept going back and forth. So it was kind of frustrating, but we just kept fighting.”
Making his night all the more impressive was Westbrook slipped and crashed to the floor on the final play of the first half, hurting his hip and requiring treatment at halftime.
When he limped off the floor, you hardly could envision him matching Bryant shot-for-shot in the decisive period.
“Russell made so many big shots for us tonight,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “When we didn't have good offensive flow, Russell came up and made a big shot.”
The Thunder desperately needed Westbrook's spark.
The Lakers led 29-24 after one quarter thanks to a combined 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from Bynum and Bryant. Behind that potent inside-outside attack, the Lakers shot 60 percent and set the tone for the game.
For the second straight game, Oklahoma City also couldn't control the Lakers' ball movement, which helped L.A. get open looks on the perimeter and high-percentage shots from in close. The Lakers recorded nine assists on their 12 made field goals in the opening period. In Game 2, the Lakers had just three assists in the first half.
The same essential recipe fueled the Lakers to a 56-46 halftime lead. Only in the second quarter, L.A. got more contributions from its role players and continued its dominant rebounding. Lakers guard Ramon Sessions capped an 11-5 run over the first four minutes of the second quarter with consecutive driving layups to put L.A. on top 40-29.