OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook had that look. Before he and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates took on the Los Angeles Lakers, he had the look of someone who was locked in and ready to punish the opponent.
That is exactly what Westbrook did Friday as he led the Thunder to a 114-108 victory over the Lakers at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Westbrook scored 33 points, dropped eight assists and was 5 for 8 behind the three-point arc as he continued his string of strong outings against the team he grew up watching as a kid.
“They are a team that everybody likes,” Westbrook said. “As a young team coming up, you want to beat the best. I think that’s what it is.”
But the Thunder needed every point from Westbrook to hold off the visiting team.
For three quarters. Oklahoma City pounded L.A. But their 19-point lead in the fourth was whittled down to 110-105 with 20 seconds left.
Westbrook was fouled and he hit a pair of free throws before the Lakers Kobe Bryant knocked down a fade away 3-pointer from the corner.
With the Thunder leading by four, Kevin Durant was fouled and he went to the stripe and hit both free throws to put the game away.
Bryant paced the Lakers with 35 points on 11-for-24 shooting. Howard racked up his 11th double-double of the season with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
But it was not enough to slow down the league’s top-scoring team.
“The whole team played hard,” Lakers guard Jodie Meeks said. “We didn’t get the result that we hoped for, but I thought everybody played as hard as they could and we can build on it.”
As impressive as Westbrook played, Durant was equally effective. He quietly scored 36 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists.
That brings Durant’s games of 30-plus points to 130 in his first five years. Kobe, who just passed the 30,000 barrier, had only 42 in the same time span.
“If he stays healthy, he definitely will be in that category as one of the best players ever,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I haven’t messed him up yet. Hopefully I don’t do that.
“It’s hard to mess Kevin up. He works hard, has the skill set, he has the talent and a great attitude. He has the body, mind, the toughness, the ability to be a 28 to 30 point scorer for a lot of years.”
The first quarter belong to Westbrook, who saves some of his best game for the Lakers. He came out firing from all over the court and poured in 13 points. That included a last second 3-pointer to close the Lakers lead to one point.
The Lakers were at their best when Howard was dominating the backboards. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison were unable to keep him off the offensive backboards.
However, it was too much Westbrook, who he seemed to take the matchup personal. He was on fire from the perimeter, but also threw down a couple of ferocious dunks to get the crowd on its feet as Oklahoma City took a 67-53-lead into halftime.
“A lot of it was Westbrook,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He just went crazy on us. They are a great shooting basketball team and they hit a hot quarter.”
NOTES: The Lakers flew into Oklahoma City on Thursday and had the night off as they awaited Friday’s matchup with the Thunder. As a group, the team went to see the film “Lincoln.” It gave L.A. a chance to bond in the middle of what has been a turbulent start to the season. … L.A. forward Pau Gasol sat out his third consecutive game with tendonitis in his knees. Antawn Jamison started in his place. … The Thunder recalled forward Perry Jones, guard Jeremy Lamb and center Daniel Orton from the Tulsa 66ers of the D-League hours before the game started. Jones, who was Oklahoma City’s first-round pick this year, is averaging 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in two games. … Metta World Peace is just the sixth NBA player to score more than 12,000 points while collecting at least 4,000 rebounds, making 1,000 three-pointers and getting 1,500 steals. … Scott Brooks on the Lakers being 1-7 when Kobe scores 30 plus: “I didn’t know that but I’m going to put that on the board tonight. Give him 32 tonight. Just not in the first half.”