Before Ric Bucher left ESPN this fall, he tweeted one of the more interesting behind-the-scenes nuggets to take into consideration whenever Oklahoma City and the Lakers play. Bucher said that underneath the “We’re all friends!” vibe Team USA put out in winning gold in London last summer, Kobe Bryant was trying to create a wedge between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant by telling Russ he deserved to be the team’s alpha male. The young OKC stars were wise to the Mamba’s plot then and apparently want to destroy L.A. each time they play the Lakers now because of what Kobe tried to do. Friday night in L.A. was a destruction, all right, but it looked so easy as to be actually scary. KD had a season-high 42 points while looking as relaxed as some of the fans (well, not Jack Nicholson — he bailed with a quarter to go). Russ had 27 points and his hard-as-hell hanging J over Bryant (28 points), combined with KD’s first-half buzzer beater, turned a close game through 25 minutes into a 16-point halftime lead. The Thunder rolled, 116-101, and the Lakers are free falling into six losses in a row. … You won’t see Pau Gasol going anywhere, as Got ‘Em Coach correctly predicted. Jordan Hill out for the year with a hip injury shut down that trade talk because this team needs every frontcourt player not named Robert Sacre it can get. … Last dispatch from Laker land: Kobe and Vanessa have called off their divorce, according to her Instagram account. … Rudy Gay (23 points), himself a trade talk magnet, hit a big bucket to beat the Spurs, 101-98 in OT. Gay stepped up and drilled a 14-footer. Maybe it was the case these teams were dog tired by OT, or maybe Memphis’ defense is restoring some of its original shine this year, but the Spurs only got three points in OT. Also, Jerryd Bayless came up with one of the season’s top “C’mon man!” entries when he threw an oop Gay wasn’t expecting on a fast break with no one within 20 feet of either of them. The ball just sailed out of bounds. … Minnesota lost a bizarre game to New Orleans, 104-92. The banged-up Wolves, down to nine guys in their rotation, went from 18 points up in the first quarter to as many as 15 down. Nawlins’ bigs woke up and held Nikola Pekovic to eight points over the final three quarters after he had 10 in the first 15 and Greivis Vasquez had another great game, getting 18 points and 13 dimes. … Danilo Gallinari may have a recessive ‘clutch’ gene. He hit a three to beat the Lakers a week ago and then got a triple (part of his 23) as time wound down to bring the Nuggets to a 98-91 win over the Cavs. … Boston nearly gave back all of its 17-point lead on its home floor to Houston, but the Truth shone through with 16 points in the second half (he had 23) in the 103-91 win that wasn’t in doubt the last six minutes. Jared Sullinger‘s been balling during the C’s 5-game win streak, and he had 14 and 11 off the pine Friday. … Hit the jump to hear about Damian Lillard’s big night back home …
Smack / Jan 12, 2013 / 3:00 am
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