So the Thunder/Lakers feud of sorts may have been taken to another level. It was last Friday when the Lakers, who are on a downward spiral, lost to the Thunder, 114-108. Russell Westbrook went off for 27 points in the first half, eventually finishing with 33. His partner-in-crime, Kevin Durant, finished with 36 points.
Source says the Black Mamba talked relentless smack during the Olympics that the Thunder stars weren’t going back to the Finals after the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and then added Dwight Howard right before the U.S. played Spain for the gold medal. Kobe also made a point of guarding Westbrook during practices and pumping him up, the theory being that he wanted to incite Russ to bump heads with KD over who the team’s best player is. (If you think that’s too conspiratorial to be real, you don’t know Kobe.) KD, in particular, got tired of hearing him. For what it’s worth: KD and Westbrook’s combined 69 points is the highest single-game total they’ve posted this season.
The media has thrived on pitting Westbrook against Durant for years now and Kobe Bryant knows what’s going on. Those two have been hearing that talk for a while now and I’m sure they’re tired of basically everyone trying to get them to have some sort of conflict, especially golden boy Durant.
The Thunder’s offensive plan by design is to have Westbrook relentlessly attack whenever he gets the chance while Durant picks his spots and takes over the fourth quarter. It works for them even though Westbrook (18.2 shot attempts per game) takes more shots than KD (17.0 shot attempts per game) does.
While, yes, it comes from an unknown source, should we believe this? Don’t put it past the ever-resourceful Kobe Bryant. I mean, why wouldn’t he do this? He would try to get every edge he can for his team. Why wouldn’t he try to rattle the still-young Russell Westbrook? I think if it were less poised individuals, they might fall for the talk. But Westbrook and Durant have endured this for years and they are mature beyond their ages. They have quite the culture in Oklahoma City so I don’t think this OKC duo will have a major squabble anytime soon.
Oh, Kobe. You snake you.