As Russell Westbrook stepped to the free-throw line late in the first half, dozens of fans raised their phones to get a piece of the player who's been setting defenses on fire so far this season.
The NBA's most electrifying show stopped by the Staples Center on Tuesday night, but it didn't end in fireworks this time. At least not for Westbrook and the Thunder. The Lakers (8-7), who were without starting point guard D'Angelo Russell due to knee soreness, shot their way to a 111-109 win on Tuesday night. They finished 14 of 27 from three, including Nick Young's game-winner with five seconds on the clock. Westbrook notched 34 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds.
Veteran Jose Calderon started in place of Russell — which is Luke Walton's way of keeping his second unit together — and collected 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Lakers were led in scoring by Jordan Clarkson, who scored 18 off the bench and was one of six Lakers to finish in double-figures.
With Calderon running the offense, the Lakers placed at an uncharacteristically slow pace to start. But the Lakers soon sped things up and started to space the floor as a result. That kickstarted a 14-2 run to the finish the first, and the Lakers led by 13 points going into the second. They were five for seven from three to that point.
Westbrook, who was guarded by Nick Young for his nine first-quarter minutes, had just four points on two shots at the rim. His teammates were similarly lethargic out of the gate, but they all picked things up when Westbrook started to spread the ball around in the second. The former UCLA guard went into halftime with 11 points and eight assists, and the Thunder trailed by just one at the break because of his balanced effort.
Young led the Lakers with 12 first-half points and hit a three at the second-quarter buzzer to give them the halftime advantage. He also accounted for three of the Lakers' seven first-half threes.
The Lakers slowly stretched their lead throughout the third, which was largely due to Jordan Clarkson's play in the pick and roll. They led the Thunder by six after three quarters, and Westbrook looked on from the bench as Clarkson hit a mid-range jumper to open the fourth.
That was followed by a handful of big-time plays by the Lakers' second unit — a three-point play from Tarik Black, a three from Lou Williams, a three from Brandon Ingram — and the lead quickly swelled to 10.
The game then turned into a shootout. Ingram hit his third three and it was immediately answered by a Victor Oladipo triple. Next Westbrook hit threes on back-to-back possessions, pulling the Thunder within eight with just over four minutes on the clock.
Westbrook wasn't done there, as he hit a turnaround fadeaway three to draw the Thunder within six. Then he nailed another three, this time pulling up with a defender on him, to trim the Lakers' lead to three. Then he drove the lane and dished to Steven Adams for a wide-open dunk that made it a one point game with 43.2 seconds on the clock.
After Larry Nance Jr. missed a baseline jump hook, Adams gathered a Westbrook miss and converted a layup. The Lakers trailed by one with 13.9 seconds on the clock, and a few passes around the perimeter ended with Young hitting an off-balance three.
Out of a Thunder timeout, Westbrook tried a three over two outstretched defenders. It rimmed out, and the show was the Lakers' after all.