LOS ANGELES: Russell Westbrook posted the first triple-double of his Los Angeles Lakers career but a late collapse saw the NBA giants crash to an upset 123-115 defeat against the previously winless Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. With LeBron James missing due to an ankle problem, Westbrook helped shoulder the Lakers’ offensive burden with Anthony Davis, finishing with 20 points, 13 assists and 14 rebounds at the Paycom Arena in Oklahoma City.
But Westbrook and Davis, who had 30 points, were unable to prevent a superb comeback by the Thunder, who had trailed by as many as 26 points late in the second quarter before rallying after the interval. The Lakers had erupted for 41 points in the first quarter, and looked to be cruising towards victory after taking a 72-56 lead at the break.
Oklahoma City turned the tables in the third quarter, however, outscoring the Lakers 41-23 to take a narrow 97-96 lead into the fourth. Derrick Favors put the Thunder ahead 118-115 on a cutting layup with 31.2 seconds remaining, and the Lakers then missed three straight shots in the closing seconds as Oklahoma City held on for the win. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 26 points while Josh Giddey and Darius Bazley had 18 points apiece.
Westbrook’s gamed ended ignominiously, ejected in the final two seconds after taking exception to Bazley’s exuberant running dunk. The Lakers fell to 2-3 after the loss as Oklahoma City improved to 1-4. “It’s a disappointing loss,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We took our foot off the gas. After that big first quarter lead, usually you catch yourselves and sustain it, but we weren’t able to do that. “Our focus, intensity and effort on the defensive end slipped – but lesson learned. We can’t take the foot off the gas against anyone.”
Elsewhere Wednesday, Bam Adebayo led a superb all-round offensive display with 24 points as the Miami Heat downed the Brooklyn Nets 106-93 in a heavyweight clash of the Eastern Conference rivals. Adebayo was one of five Heat players to make double digits in a hard-fought duel which saw Miami recover from an eight-point deficit early in third quarter before pulling away in the fourth. Jimmy Butler had 17 points with 14 rebounds and seven assists while P.J. Tucker added 15 points.
Tyler Herro and Dewayne Dedmon each had 14 points. The 2020 NBA Finals runners-up improved to 3-1 with the win, while the Nets fell to 2-3 after the loss. Kevin Durant led the Brooklyn scorers with 25 points while shooting guard Joe Harris had 15. James Harden was restricted to 14 points. In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo erupted for 40 points with 16 rebounds and seven assists but the reigning champion Bucks stumbled to a 113-108 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
D’Angelo Russell led the Wolves scoring with 29 points, while Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns each had 25 points in a game Minnesota led from start-to-finish after piling up 44 points in the first quarter. “All credit to Minnesota putting 44 on us – it doesn’t matter who’s playing. There’s a lot us to work on,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
In Boston, meanwhile, the Celtics are still waiting for their first home win of the season after suffering a 116-107 reverse against the Washington Wizards. Montrezl Harrell led the Wizards scorers with 25 points from the bench while Spencer Dinwiddie added 22. – AFP