LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant scored
26 points, including an astonishing basket from behind the backboard,
and the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a 101-85 rout of the Oklahoma
City Thunder on Sunday night.
The defending NBA champions, who
squeaked out a 101-98 overtime win at Oklahoma City on Nov. 3, had this
one in control throughout with help from Andrew Bynum‘s 25 points and
nine rebounds. Bryant also had seven assists and six rebounds.
Pau Gasol, playing his second game
since coming back from a right hamstring strain, had 15 points, seven
rebounds and six assists after getting 24 points and 13 boards in
Thursday’s 108-93 win against Chicago. The Lakers have won 11 straight
against the Thunder-Seattle SuperSonics franchise, and are 9-0 this
season when scoring 100 or more points.
Bryant thrilled the sellout crowd
late in the first quarter when he made one of those Larry Bird-type
fadeaway jumpers from behind the baseline near the Lakers’ bench while
hanging in the air as his momentum carried him out of bounds on a drive
against rookie guard James Harden.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with
19 points, after getting 30 or more in five of his previous seven
games. The Thunder have given up 100 or more points in each of their
last three contests, after allowing fewer than 90 in six of their first
Durant, who came in as the league’s
fifth-leading scorer with a 27.7-points average and had 28 in the first
meeting with the Lakers, missed his first five shots in the rematch
while Bynum made his first five to help Los Angeles pull out to a 27-8
lead. Bryant, who scored nine points in the final 2:01 of the quarter,
turned a one-bounce offensive rebound into a buzzer-beating bank shot
from the foul line to give the Lakers a 35-16 cushion.
Bynum, who didn’t practice the
previous two days after rolling his right ankle defending against
Chicago’s Brad Miller, went to the bench for good in the final minute
of the third quarter with the Lakers ahead 77-56.
Durant, who made a league-best 452
free throws last season, had only one against the Lakers. It came at
the end of a three-point play that trimmed the Lakers’ lead to 61-42
with 8:42 left in the third, and was his only attempt from the line.
The Lakers are off to a 10-3
start, compared to 12-1 last year. The worst 13-game start the
franchise ever had in any of its 15 NBA championship seasons was 8-5 in
1984-85. … The Lakers’ next game is Tuesday night when they host the
Knicks, the first meeting between the teams since Bryant set a Madison
Square Garden record with 61 points on Feb. 2. New York is 3-17 overall
at Staples Center, with all of the victories coming against the Lakers.
The Knicks are 0-10 there against the Clippers. … Bryant, who entered
his 14th NBA season averaging 34.1 percent from 3-point range, is an
uncharacteristic 5 for 28 from behind the arc through his first 13
games. By contrast, teammate Josh Powell is 30 for 65. … Durant was
the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, James Westbrook the fourth
selection in 2008 and Harden the third player tabbed in 2009. Durant
and Westbrook are Oklahoma City’s top two scorers. … Harden was
coming off back-to-back games of 24 and 25 points, his first two
double-digit performances in the NBA, and was 10-for-13 shots from
3-point range during that two-game stretch. But he was 12 for 14
overall against the Lakers and finished with six points.