OKLAHOMA CITY -- There was a time when the Los Angeles Lakers came to Oklahoma to take on the Thunder that it was the most anticipated game of the season. With guard Kobe Bryant leading the charge, there was guaranteed fireworks in store.
"Tonight was a tough team," Bryant said. "They are a tough team to match up against -- their size and their speed. We ran into a bit of a buzzsaw tonight. But we have another one tomorrow."
"Obviously, they'd rather me (shoot 3-pointers) than drive to the basket," Westbrook said. "But if they keep doing that, they're gonna learn."
With the Lakers having no healthy point guards available, Bryant was forced into double duty to start the night. In only his third game back from rehabbing a torn Achilles, he not only had to run the offense but was assigned the task of guarding Westbrook.
Guards Wesley Johnson and Jodie Meeks led the Lakers on a surge and closed the Thunder's lead to six. Johnson came off the bench looking for his shot from behind the arc and scored 11 points before Oklahoma was able to doing anything about it.
"Kobe is the ultimate competitor," Durant said. "I knew he was going to do that. He was going to challenge. With a guy like Kobe, if I don't accept the challenge, I'm going to hear about it for a while."
Throughout the first half, Bryant played facilitator, trying to get the rest of his team involved. In doing so, he took only two shots from the field in entire half as OKLAHOMA CITY opened a 66-51 advantage. OKLAHOMA CITY set a season high for points scored in the first half. The previous best was 64 against Detroit.
"You have to give them credit," Durant said. "They came out really strong -- confident and making shots. We just had to be better. We got a steal and a dunk. I think it ignited us, especially with our crowd."
NOTES: When Lakers G Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon at the end of last season, many didn't know if he would ever play in the NBA again. OKLAHOMA CITY F Kevin Durant was not one of them. "Kobe's just a fierce competitor," Durant said. "I didn't even think twice about him coming back and how he would be or if he would lose a step." ... While on the Arsenio Hall Show on Tuesday, NFL great Jim Brown made a few comments about Bryant, including how because "he was brought up in another country, (Bryant) doesn't quite fit what's happening in America." Bryant responded Thursday on Twitter: "A "Global" African American is an inferior shade to "American" African Americans?? #hmm.. that doesn't sound very #Mandela or #DrKing sir." ... OKLAHOMA CITY G Thabo Sefolosha missed his third straight game with a sprained right knee. ... Thunder coach Scott Brooks described G Russell Westbrook as an unfriendly competitor. "Russell is a very competitive guy," Brooks said. "Russell, he doesn't like a lot of opponents as you guys know. He's not a friendly type of competitor. He wants to beat you."