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Lakers are Thunder-struck by Russell Westbrook in 102-93 loss

Westbrook scores 27 of his 36 points in the second half and Oklahoma City beats the Lakers decisively for the second time this season.

March 30, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times

Derek Fisher looked satisfied after a big game, a great symbol for the Lakers earlier this month.

But the boos that circled Staples Center in the fourth quarter were the more precise indicator of what happened Thursday.

The Lakers fell eight games behind Oklahoma City after losing to the Thunder, 102-93, on the night Fisher returned to play against his former teammates.

A volume of stories could be written on the differences between the teams, but it was condensed Thursday to the ridiculous speed of Russell Westbrook.

The former UCLA guard had 36 points and six assists, clearly outplaying Ramon Sessions, the point guard the Lakers acquired the same day they traded Fisher.

The third-quarter scoring was all that needed to be known. The Lakers had 19 points, Westbrook had 17.

Amid the cringing at Staples Center was the fact the Lakers (31-20) dropped to only 11/2 games ahead of the Clippers for third place in the Western Conference.

"It was very disappointing to watch," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said, with few arguments from Lakers followers.

The boos surfaced when the Lakers took a timeout with 9 minutes 8 seconds to play, trailing, 84-70, after a Westbrook dunk.

It was followed quickly by Kevin Durant's dunk, a run down the lane that easily beat a late-arriving Pau Gasol.

The box score was an eye sore for the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant made seven of 25 shots and had 23 points. Metta World Peace made three of 13 shots, a stat line made incrementally better after he hit two late three-pointers. Gasol made four of 11 shots.

Sessions had a quiet seven points and five assists. His five turnovers and four fouls spoke loudly.

The Lakers led after a solid first quarter, 30-18, but faded gradually from there.

Actually, it was pretty quick in the third quarter.

Gasol picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with 9:38 left in it. Westbrook had only nine points in the first half but crushed the Lakers in the third quarter as the Thunder took a 78-68 lead.

"Westbrook really just put his head down and beat us to the cup a lot," said center Andrew Bynum, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds. "We lost in the third quarter because he got layup after layup."

Durant had 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Thunder (39-12). Fisher had seven points on three-for-six shooting.

It was a similar outcome to the last time the Lakers played the Thunder, a 100-85 loss in their final game before the All-Star break.

That one was significant because Bryant made a dismal seven of 24 shots and complimented Oklahoma City's coaching staff on finding ways to get Durant so many easy baskets.

This one was notable because the Lakers didn't do much of anything easily after the first quarter.

And why exactly couldn't they sustain their energy of the first 12 minutes?

"Because they were better and have more of it than we do," Bryant said. "It's as simple as that.

"That's a formidable foe...."

Lakers fans perked up momentarily after Bynum's seven-foot shot brought the Lakers within 96-89 with 1:17 to play.

Westbrook, of course, answered with a 17-footer to shut the door. Brown was already conceding a burst by him before the game.

"You're not going to stop Russell Westbrook so you try and stay in front of him and contest shots and hope that he misses jump shots," he said.

None of it happened. The Lakers, at this point, simply aren't threats to win the West.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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