Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 69 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder cruised to a 116-101 road win over the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers, a game far less competitive than the final score indicates.
The loss was the sixth straight for the injury-plagued Lakers, who came into the season with championship aspirations but now are six games below .500 and in disarray shortly before the midway point of the season.
Durant was completely unstoppable Friday night at Staples Center, scoring 42 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists in 39 minutes of play, while Westbrook added 27 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
The Lakers put up a fight early on, ending the first quarter with an 11-0 run to tie the game at 25-25.
But the Thunder's array of offensive weaponry was too much in the second quarter, in which Oklahoma City scored a whopping 39 points, and the Lakers never came close to mounting a comeback in the second half.
For their third straight game, Lakers were missing power forward Pau Gasol, out with a concussion, and center Dwight Howard, who is suffering from a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles in scoring with 28 points, but he made just 8-of-23 field-goal attempts.
Metta World Peace also was way off with his shot, missing 13 of his 18 shots from the field, while point guard Steve Nash had a quiet night with seven points and seven assists.
The Thunder improved to 28-8, tied for best in the NBA, while the Lakers fell to 15-21.
High expectations surround the Lakers this season after the offseason acquisitions of Howard, a three-time defensive player of the year who is out with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and Nash, a two-time league MVP who also missed time earlier in the season due to a leg injury.
The team struggled out of the gates under then-head coach Mike Brown, briefly got on track under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, and has suffered from injuries and poor play again since Mike D'Antoni took the reins in late November.
Following their latest loss, the Lakers are now 10-16 with D'Antoni on the sidelines.
In other action Friday night in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors routed the Charlotte Bobcats 99-78, the Boston Celtics topped the Houston Rockets 103-91, the Brooklyn Nets trounced the Phoenix Suns 99-79, the Atlanta Hawks cruised past the Utah Jazz 103-95, and the New Orleans Hornets defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-92.
The Chicago Bulls topped the New York Knicks 108-101, the Memphis Grizzlies edged the San Antonio Spurs 101-98 in overtime, the Detroit Pistons routed the Milwaukee Bucks 103-87, the Denver Nuggets topped the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91, and the Golden State Warriors held off the Portland Trail Blazers 103-97. EFE