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OKC Thunder: Rest trumped rust, and Russell Westbrook trumped them all

Young legs ran circles around veteran mettle. Thunder blue routed Laker purple. Rest trumped rust. And Russ trumped them all.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 15, 2012

Young legs ran circles around veteran mettle.

Thunder blue routed Laker purple. Rest trumped rust. And Russ trumped them all.

Russell Westbrook was the best player on a court full of all-stars, Kevin Durant was right there with him and the Thunder celebrated the end of a nine-day layoff with a 119-90 thrashing Monday night that sent a clear message.

The Thunder is back. Back on the court. Back in the saddle of where it was before an April swoon lifted the Spurs to the Western Conference favorite role in the NBA playoffs.

In Game 1 of this West semifinal series, the Thunder left the Lakers exasperated. Kobe Bryant went from frustrated to laughing at the futility by the fourth quarter. Twin towers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol sat on the bench for what seemed like forever after the game, trying to make sense of this run-rule. Rookie Devin Ebanks got ejected late and stripped to his waist, ala Bynum from a year ago, when the Lakers were unceremoniously swept by the Mavericks in the second round.

Don't look now, but with the Thunder playing like this, another sweep is possible.

“In the playoffs, we've been playing good basketball,” Scotty Brooks said. “Been taking care of the basketball.”

No kidding. The Thunder had just four turnovers Monday night and shot 53 percent from the field. That equals blowout every single time.

Kobe and his coach, Mike Brown, used the same term to describe the game. Downhill.

Brown: “They did a terrific job attacking the way we tried to defend pick and rolls. They kind of got loose from some midrange jump shots. They got aggressive going downhill.”

Kobe: “They go on runs, they go on big runs. Once they get going, it goes downhill quickly.”

It went downhill quickly for the Lakers. And then it got worse.

With Westbrook and Durant playing well, the Thunder zipped to a 59-44 halftime lead. Then the Thunder scored 20 points the first five minutes of the second half, and it was Lost Angeles.

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by Berry Tramel
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 Oklahoman,...
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