Kobe Bryant did not play in the first meeting between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder. He played in the second meeting on Wednesday, but it didn’t matter, the result was the same.
Los Angeles was crushed once again by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and company by a final score of 120-85. After a slow start, the Lakers showed a second quarter burst to take the lead, but would never see it again beyond a score of 44-43. Oklahoma City put it to the Lakers after that point, blowing the game wide open with a 36-2 run that spanned the second and third quarters. While the Thunder rattled off bucket after bucket, it took the Lakers nearly six minutes to score their first points of the third quarter. It was garbage time after that.
Bryant’s play as of late has been greatly improved, but the 37-year-old had a tough time with the length of Durant. Kobe tallied another 19 points, but did so on seven-of-22 shooting. Even more troubling than that, however, was the fact that he played 28 minutes in the second night of a back-to-back in a game that was an absolute massacre. If the Lakers want to preserve Bryant’s longevity, Byron Scott needs to cut down his minutes, especially in these scenarios.
One way to cut down those minutes is by giving D’Angelo Russell more playing time. The rookie also played 28 minutes, pouring in 18 points on six-of-16 shooting, including four-of-seven from deep. He was also one of three Lakers to have a positive plus-minus tonight, along with Brandon Bass and Anthony Brown. The Lakers outscored the Thunder by 11 during Russell’s time on the court, which goes to show how terrible the game was when he was on the bench. Although a chunk of his points came in the fourth quarter in garbage time, the Lakers went on their second quarter run with Russell on the floor.
Los Angeles falls to 0-2 against Oklahoma City this season and 5-24 overall, and up next is the 16-13 Clippers on Christmas day. The Clippers come into the holiday matchup having lost their last three games.
For those of you that missed the game, I for one am very jealous. But there were still some highlights for the purple and gold (Spoiler alert: Kobe had another dunk).