OKLAHOMA CITY — Pau Gasol found a new foe, aquamarine in color and sticking to him like nothing else.
He stepped on chewing gum during postgame interviews in front of his locker and couldn't extricate it from the bottom of his shoe.
Metaphor for the Lakers' season, anybody?
The Lakers were a mess again, falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 122-97, Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Bad things came in threes for the Lakers, who played without all three of their injured point guards and fell to 0-3 since Kobe Bryant's return.
They were askew from three-point range, making five of 21 until late in the game, and had no chance against the Thunder's big three.
Other than that? Great game for the Lakers (10-12), who have three more games left on their trip.
"We will get better," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Check in on us in a couple of weeks and see how we're doing."
The difference between the Lakers and the Western Conference heavies won't shrink any time soon.
Bryant played a below-the-rim game, taking a pass-first approach the whole way except for a brief spate of missed mid-range shots in the third quarter.
He had four points on two-for-six shooting, 13 assists and seven turnovers. He had one rebound in 23 minutes and did not play in the fourth quarter because the Lakers trailed so badly.
"I'm moving a lot better," he said after his third game since tearing his Achilles' tendon. "I'll get to a point soon where I'll be able to play a little bit more and maybe be out there on the court maybe around 30-35 minutes.
"It's tough, but physically it's not ready for that yet. We'll just have to hold the fort down in that time and stay within striking distance."
Tellingly, Bryant stole the ball from Jeremy Lamb at midcourt and scored all alone on a layup instead of a dunk in the first quarter.
"It's early in the game, I'm still not even loose," Bryant said, smiling. "Just take the two points."
It could have been worse. D'Antoni said Bryant would defend point guard Russell Westbrook, one of the NBA's fastest players, but instead Jodie Meeks got the assignment. Lucky him.
Westbrook had 19 points and 12 assists, Kevin Durant had 31 points and Serge Ibaka had 19 points.
It wasn't fully unexpected.
The Thunder (18-4) hasn't lost at home since last season's playoffs. Bovada sports book crystallized the teams' differences with two proposition offers before the game: 99-1 odds on the Lakers winning by 21 or more points, but only 2-1 odds on the Thunder winning by 21.
The mismatch on paper played out on the court, the Thunder leading by 30 at one point.
Gasol had 14 points and seven rebounds after a through-the-media exchange Thursday with D'Antoni in which Gasol complained to The Times about not getting the ball enough down low.
Gasol reiterated Friday that he didn't want to start 20 or 30 feet from the basket, ideally setting up within 10 feet.
"I just got myself a little closer to the basket and was able to make better plays," Gasol said after the game. "Got myself some offensive boards. I didn't take so many jumpers in which the percentage is lower. ... I'm definitely more effective when I get myself in the paint."
Gasol said he listened to Bryant's suggestion to lose some weight but has already dropped from 270 pounds at the start of the season to 259.
D'Antoni continued to tinker with the starting lineup, inserting Jordan Hill and Wesley Johnson in place of Robert Sacre and Shawne Williams. It didn't help.
Despite an early 13-7 lead, it wasn't long before the Lakers were down 14 as the Thunder scored a season-high 38 points in the first quarter.
"We've seen worse. You forget what we had to go through last year," Bryant said. "I think our heart is in the right place."