LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol
scored 19 points, Andrew Bynum added 13 and the Los Angeles Lakers used
their twin 7-footers to dominate inside against the Oklahoma City
Thunder, winning 87-79 Sunday in the opener of their playoff series.
Kobe Bryant added 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting after missing four of the final five regular season games
to rest his swollen right knee and broken right index finger.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with
24 points — under the 30.1 average of the NBA's youngest-ever scoring
champion. Former UCLA star Russell Westbrook added 23.
Bynum returned from a 13-game
absence because of a strained right Achilles' tendon, teaming with Gasol
to pull down a combined 25 rebounds and deny the Thunder key
Game 2 in the best-of-7 series is
Tuesday at Staples Center.
History is on the Lakers' side
against the NBA's youngest team, with an average age of 25 years and 42
days. When coach Phil Jackson wins Game 1 of any series, his teams are
45-0. That includes a 24-0 mark with Chicago and 23-0 with the Lakers.
The Lakers came out blazing
against the overwhelmed Thunder, pounding the ball inside to Bynum and
Gasol while shooting 54 percent and taking a 27-13 lead in the first
In the playoffs for the first
time since moving from Seattle two years ago, the Thunder shot 26
percent, leading to their fewest points in an opening period all season.
Oklahoma City settled down the
rest of the way, but never got closer than six points against the
defending champions, who are seeking a third straight trip to the NBA
With Bryant, Gasol, Derek Fisher
and Ron Artest on the bench to start the fourth, Jordan Farmar scored
the Lakers' first five points despite a strained left hamstring to
stretch a six-point lead to 11.
Bryant and Lamar Odom hit
consecutive 3-pointers, extending the lead the Lakers held the entire
game to 77-66.
A pair of free throws by Durant
got the Thunder to 79-73 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. They never got
any closer. Fisher hit a 3-pointer that pushed the Lakers' lead to 84-74
before Bryant picked up his fifth foul.
Westbrook carried the Thunder
early in the third, and Durant scored their final five points to leave
them trailing 64-56 going into the final 12 minutes. Fisher, Artest and
Odom were in foul trouble and Bryant scored a single point on a free
throw as they played to a draw in the third.
The Thunder outscored the Lakers
26-20 in the second quarter, when Los Angeles got away from the inside
game of Bynum and Gasol and settled for jump shots instead. Their
17-point lead dwindled to 47-39 at the break.
Westbrook scored the Thunder's
final eight points of the half and their first two of the third, drawing
them within six.
Lakers C DJ Mbenga had retinal surgery on his left eye after getting
struck in practice Saturday, his second hit in the head in two days. …
Lakers G Sasha Vujacic sat out with a severely sprained left ankle. …
In keeping with tradition, Jackson wore his most recent championship
ring from 2009. "It's a very difficult ring to wear," he said. "I watch
shaking hands with people, particularly those who want to squeeze your
hand really hard." … Celeb sightings: Jack Nicholson, Andy Garcia,
Teri Hatcher, New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, Glenn Frey, Dyan Cannon,
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Penny Marshall and David Arquette.