Thunder strike down "crumbling" Lakers
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With Kevin Durant in cruise control, the Oklahoma City Thunder overpowered the injury-hit Los Angeles Lakers in a 116-101 win on Friday, inflicting a rare sixth straight defeat on the home team.
Sharp-shooting forward Durant scored a season-high 42 points and guard Russell Westbrook weighed in with 27 and 10 assists as the Thunder drew level with the Los Angeles Clippers at the top of the Western Conference.
Bench player Kevin Martin added 15 points on six-of-12 shooting and Oklahoma outshot Los Angeles by 51 percent to 40 from the field at a sellout Staples Center while improving their record this season to 28-8.
"He's a special player," Martin told reporters about Durant, the three-time reigning NBA scoring champion. "He's the heart of our team and we just like to follow his lead.
"He brought a lot of intensity and you see your superstar bring intensity like that, everybody else better bring it also."
Kobe Bryant led the way with 28 points for the Lakers, who slipped to 15-21 after playing their third consecutive game without injured big men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
Howard, a three-time defensive player of the year, is out after re-aggravating a right shoulder injury while fellow All-Star Gasol is sidelined due to concussion.
"We have to put things in proper perspective," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said after his team had out-rebounded the Lakers 53-46. Continued...