OKLAHOMA CITY The Oklahoma City Thunder used a second-quarter drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night to look every bit like a championship-caliber team, further shaking off any hand-wringing over the loss of now-departed star James Harden.
The Lakers, who whittled the final score down to 114-108 in the final seconds of the game but for most of the night looked every bit like a team with no sense of its own identity, fell to 4-6 under new head coach Mike D'Antoni.
This is the state of things in the West, made clear by the Thunder's Friday night excellence and the Lakers' unease: Oklahoma City is clear-headed, in sync and poised to hold onto its post as the odds-on favorite for another Finals appearance. And the Lakers remain the most hyped work-in-progress the NBA has seen since LeBron James' first season in a Heat jersey.
But that Heat team never dipped below .500 and eventually made the Finals, while this Lakers team now sits at 9-11, looks nothing like a Finals te...