LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers were a 50-50 proposition Monday night, shooting 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Thunder was an all-around mess offensively, shooting just 42.5 percent from the field and 9.1 percent from 3-point range.
Those numbers obviously point to a mismatch, yet the Thunder was in it until the bitter end of a 101-94 loss to the Lakers on Martin Luther King Day. OKC didn't go down without a fight, thanks to the explosive play of point guard Russell Westbrook, who was raised in nearby Hawthorne and played college ball at UCLA. Westbrook finished with 32 points and 12 assists and led a pair of furious second-half comebacks when the Thunder was presumed dead. OKC narrowed a 15-point deficit to three in the third quarter and a nine-point deficit to four in the final period, but never got over the hump against the two-time defending world champions. "It wasn't anything in the fourth quarter (that lost the game), it's a process throughout the whole game," Westbrook said. The Thunder, which is now 0-7 against the Lakers inside Staples Center, had a chance to win with less than a minute to play. With OKC trailing 98-94, Thunder forward Jeff Green's 3-point attempt from the corner hit high off the rim and bounded two more times before failing to find the mark with 52 seconds left. The Thunder shot 2 for 22 from 3-point range, including 1 for 13 after intermission. Kevin Durant was 1 for 8, James Harden was 1 for 6 and Green was 0 for 5. "They got stops when it counted," Green said. "That's how you win games and that's what they did." Thunder coach Scott Brooks and his players were careful to credit the Lakers on their performance, but they also were careful not to give LA full credit. "They have length, they protect the basketball very well and they have a good wing defender in (Ron) Artest," Brooks said, "but we didn't move the ball very well. Rohde blog: Postgame thoughts Boxscore