By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Russell Westbrook leapt off the Thunder bench punched the air with his fist, gave a roar and then shouted “and one!”
Semaj Christon had just fired a pass to Alex Abrines who dropped the ball in the basket despite being hammered by Nick Young. There were only 35 seconds left in the Thunder’s first blowout of the season but here was Westbrook cheering like his rookie teammate had just won a playoff game.
Such is the passion, the fire and the will to win that makes Westbrook who he is.
“He had a masterful game tonight,” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. “Getting everyone involved, shooting when the shots were there. Play-making for teammates. When we were aggressive on him he showed why he’s one of the top point guards in the world.”
Westbrook notched his second straight triple-double with 33 points, on 11-for-21 shooting (5-for-6 on threes) 12 rebounds and 16 assists to lead the Thunder to a 113-96 win over a young, stubborn Lakers club that trailed by just four points with just under 5 minutes to play.
The Thunder led by as many as 19 and had double-digit leads several times in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters but just couldn’t quite put LA away until the closing minutes.
Some of that had to do with the 26 points the Lakers scored off 20 Thunder turnovers.
Despite some of those stumbles the Thunder again put together an outstanding 4th quarter hitting 70 percent of their shots (14-for-20) and holding the Lakers to only 40 percent (8-for-20).
A couple nights after Westbrook scored 51 points on 44 shots and only one other player got into double-digits, against the Lakers the ball movement was better and so was the shot distribution.
The Thunder had 29 assists and four players got into double digits. Victor Oladipo had his second solid game with 20 points, four assists and a steal. Steven Adams, perhaps on the eve of signing a huge contract extension, scored 14 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, blocked two shots and stole the ball twice.
Enes Kanter added 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting with six rebounds.
“I thought we were a lot more balanced tonight,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan told reporters after the game. “A lot of different guys got involved offensively.”
The Thunder did a lot of damage inside, outscoring the Lakers in the paint 62-44 and OKC ran LA into the ground outscoring the Lakers 26-9 in transition.
“I think for our team it’s another game that shows we’re progressing and getting better,” Donovan said. “And it’s good to see us do some of the things that we tried to focus on coming out of the Phoenix game.”
The Thunder are now 3-0 but the competition is about to ramp up big time. Donovan is giving his players a day off from practice on Monday before a light workout Tuesday and then a flight to the west coast for a back-to-back against the Clippers in Los Angeles and the Warriors in Oakland.
We will quickly find out just how this Oklahoma City team stacks up against two of the best in the west.