Ibaka quietly went about his business, crafting two rock-steady halves while supplying low-post defense, rebounding and hustle plays. Neither Ibaka nor Durant and Westbrook needed to play a second of the fourth quarter after expanding a 15-point halftime lead into a 20-point cushion entering the final frame.
“He's done a great job of spacing out,” Westbrook said of Ibaka. “He knows where he can get his shots.”
The second half was nothing more than an extension of what transpired in the first. The Thunder scored a season-high 38 points in the opening quarter, building a 10-point lead it never relinquished.
Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka led the way, combining to score 31 points with eight rebounds and seven assists while making 11 of 20 shots in the quarter. The Thunder also forced the Lakers into six turnovers in the period, which led to 12 quick and easy points.
When the stars were done, the bench came in and bumped the Thunder lead to as many as 30 points. Reggie Jackson paced all bench players with 19 points. Jeremy Lamb chipped in 11, and Perry Jones III scored nine.
OKC registered a season-high 34 assists against only 14 turnovers.
Bryant, in just his third game since recovering from an Achilles injury, finished with four points on 2-for-6 shooting. Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, with six, scored more. Bryant added a game-high 13 assists, however, as he looked to distribute the ball rather than score.
He was thrust into starting point guard duty with Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake, all three of L.A.'s point guards, out with injury. Without their full complement of players, the Lakers never stood a chance of keeping up.
As a result, the Thunder went on to win its 11th straight at home and improve to 18-4 this season.
Eleven seconds were all we had to remind us just how riveting this matchup once was.
Even that ended on a sour note.
“He's the ultimate competitor,” Durant said of Bryant. “I knew he was going to do that. I knew he was going to challenge me. And a guy like Kobe, if I don't accept the challenge I'm going to hear about it for a while.
“I wish he didn't foul me. I was going to try to go at him at the end of that quarter.”