The Oklahoma City Thunder didn't have to face Kobe Bryant this past weekend while registering their most lopsided victory of the season.
Bryant could prove healthy for Wednesday night's rematch but even the Los Angeles Lakers' resurgent star might have difficulty stopping the soaring Oklahoma City Thunder from matching their longest win streak in the series.
Bryant is averaging 25.0 points on 50.7 percent shooting in his last four games, but Los Angeles was without his services for its trip to Oklahoma City on Saturday because of a sore right shoulder.
The Thunder (19-9) rolled to a 118-78 victory with seven players scoring in double figures, led by Kevin Durant's 22 points. They also had a 56-32 rebounding edge over the Lakers (5-23) and outshot them 54.8 percent to 34.9.
Enes Kanter had 19 of Oklahoma City's season-best 57 points from its bench and 14 rebounds.
“The guys on the court have to learn from it,” Los Angeles coach Byron Scott said. “They didn't play well at all and really just got embarrassed by the way we played tonight. Like I told them, I said it was pathetic in every area. We didn't come to compete. They just played harder than we did. It just looked like we were in awe of that team.”
The Lakers looked like a different team with Bryant making a quick return to the court Tuesday. He matched a season high with 31 points in a 111-107 victory in Denver.
“I can still play a little bit,” said Bryant, who averaged 15.8 points on 31.3 percent shooting in his first 20 games. “It was a great test for me tonight to see if I could still play both ends of the floor.”
Durant played a major role in Oklahoma City's eighth win in nine games Monday, a 100-99 victory at the Los Angeles Clippers. He made a 19-foot jumper with 5.8 seconds remaining and blocked Chris Paul's shot just before the buzzer.
Russell Westbrook had a team-leading 33 points, his most in 10 games this month.
“We believe in each other,” Durant said. ''Russ hit big shots and everybody was excited for him. Serge (Ibaka) hit big shots and everybody was excited for him. And when my number was called, you saw the guys hop off the bench when I made the shot. And that's all you want – that support from your teammates.”
The Thunder will next seek a sixth consecutive win over the Lakers, which would tie their best run in a series that dates back to 1967-68. Oklahoma City is also trying for just its third string of three consecutive road wins against the Lakers with the most recent Dec. 8, 2000-Dec. 11, 2001, when the franchise was in Seattle.
Bryant has appeared in just one of the last seven meetings, scoring nine points on 3-of-15 shooting in a 104-103 home loss Dec. 19, 2014.
Durant had missed the previous three matchups before last weekend's game and sat out last season's two visits to the Lakers. When healthy, he's averaged 34.9 points in his past seven road games against them including playoffs.