Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant spoil Kobe Bryant’s final game in Oklahoma City

first_imgOKLAHOMA CITY – With the game out of reach, the Thunders’ Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook sat at the scorer’s table. They scanned the box score and laughed. Durant and Westbrook completed a running joke at the Lakers’ expense, as the Thunder handed them a 112-79 loss on Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Durant scored anytime he wanted to with 34 points on an 11-of-18 clip. Westbrook recorded his league-leading 18th triple double by halftime before finishing with 13 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.Kobe Bryant hardly sounded surprised Westbrook tied Magic Johnson’s triple double output in the 1988-89 season. Bryant contended Westbrook “has no flaws in his game.” Bryant called Westbrook “the most athletic player I’ve ever played against.” And Bryant found Westbrook sharing his same on-court feistiness. Yet, Lakers coach Byron Scott tried to suppress his anger, calling it “interesting” Russell logged a triple double by halftime with 11 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. That marked the first time anyone has done that since Jim Tucker recorded a triple double for the Syracuse Nationals in 17 minutes in 1955. “I’ve never seen that kid take a night off,” Scott said. “When he’s on the floor, you’re going to get everything he has to give. If you’re a defender and you’re not ready, you’re going to get embarrassed.”The Lakers (16-65) have often become embarrassed against several teams. This time, Bryant could not make the game at least compelling against the Thunder (55-26). He posted 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting in 19 minutes a night after logging 35 points in Houston. Bryant seemed just as efficient early, scoring all of his 13 points on a 4-of-10 clip in the entire first quarter. That approach backfired.“I tried to loosen up in the locker room coming out for the second half,” Bryant said. “But I couldn’t move well at all.”Hence, Scott “wasn’t thinking about it at all” to reinsert Bryant late in the fourth quarter despite the constant pleas from fans. Instead, Bryant rested more before his career-finale on Wednesday against Utah at Staples Center. “I would’ve loved to play against KD and chase Russell around a little bit more,” Bryant said. “But I’m still appreciative of the fans reaction.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Durant and Westbrook offered Bryant a more generous gift beforehand. Bryant received a photography book filled with personalized messages, a gesture Bryant called “extremely thoughtful.” “It takes time for players to be able to sit and be able to do that,” Bryant said. “The biggest thing is to have memories.”Bryant would like to forget this game or losing to the Thunder in the 2012 Western Conference semifinals. Instead, Bryant would cherish the Lakers defeating Oklahoma City in the first round before winning the 2010 NBA title. Or when Durant saw Bryant make 50 shots in seven different spots from behind the 3-point line during an off-day workout with the U.S. Olympic team in 2008. “He took a bus to a high school gym to put some work in,” Durant said. “He’s old school. That’s exactly what I wanted to be like.”Bryant thought of Durant and Westbrook when he said the “league is filled with young, talented players.” Bryant could not yet say the same thing of the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell (11 points on 3-of-10 shooting, four turnovers), Jordan Clarkson (11 points on 2-of-14 shooting) and Julius Randle (nine points on 4-of-11 shooting). Yet, Scott downplayed whether Bryant’s frequent absences from practice and shootarounds to treat his aging body indirectly stunted his young teammates’ development. “Practice is one small part of it,” Scott said. “He’s given them advice on end-of game situations going on that can absolutely help them in the future. If he could’ve practiced every day, he would’ve. But that would’ve been a detriment to him and us.”Hence, Scott admitted the Lakers “are going to have to rectify that this summer.” First things first. Bryant has one game left of a glorious career. The Lakers have one game left of an awful season. last_img read more