Any fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder that were afraid their club would be a little rusty due to the long period of inactivity before the Thunder hosted the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, would realize quickly that instead the Northwest Division winners were well rested and ready to play as they pummeled the Lakers 119-90 to begin their Western Conference semi-final match-up. Oklahoma City put 30 points on the scoreboard in the opening period and shot a scalding 53.0% (44-83) from the floor for the night and had the game wrapped up after the end of the third.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook was the leading scorer of the game with 27 points while Kevin Durant knocked down 25 points. Andrew Bynum racked up a double-double including 20 points for Los Angeles while Kobe Bryant also had 20 points in the loss. The only Lakers starter who did not score in double-digits was point guard Ramon Sessions, who had a disappointing night as he ended up with just 2 points and 3 assists in 26 minutes of action.
The home team dominated this contest from the opening tip; as they were machine-like in their efficiency. Their opponents attempted to make adjustments throughout the evening; however they never even were effective in slowing down the Thunder. The Lakers seemed to be exhausted after defeating the Denver Nuggets to win their first round series in seven games and they never seemed to get into sync throughout the night.
Both teams battled for most of the opening period, however Oklahoma City would go on top 20-18 when Serge Ibaka drove the lane putting the ball up and in with 4:31 remaining and held the upper hand for the rest of the first. Daequan Cook hit a mid-range jumper at the buzzer and the Thunder ended the quarter on top 30-23.
Los Angeles would never get any closer than trailing by six points in the second. Durant connected on a short jumper with just eight seconds left in the quarter and as the two teams went to their locker rooms as the game reached the half Oklahoma City held a 59-44 advantage.
If the Lakers held out any hopes of getting back into this game during the second half, they were quickly dashed during the third quarter. The Thunder knocked down 39 points in the period and would hold a 35 point lead in the closing seconds. They would have to settle for having a 30 point advantage heading into the fourth with the score 98-68. Former Lakers point guard Derek Fisher would bury a 25-foot trey with 19 seconds left in the game for the final points of the evening.
The two teams will be back on the same floor on Wednesday night with Oklahoma City hold a 1-0 advantage in the series.