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Kyle Kuzma, Lakers stomp Oklahoma City without LeBron James and Anthony Davis

Kyle Kuzma, Lakers stomp Oklahoma City without LeBron James and Anthony Davis

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo (9) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) and center Steven Adams (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) and Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) reach for a rebound in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, right, shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Abdel Nader (11) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Quinn Cook (2) shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson (23) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) goes to the basket between Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) forward Kyle Kuzma, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Terrance Ferguson, center, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, left, is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee (7) as he shoots in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, center, shoots as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dennis Schroder (17) defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo (9) goes to the basket past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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OKLAHOMA CITY — It was easy to see Frank Vogel marching into Chesapeake Energy Arena on Saturday night as a general without an army — or at least without his best officers. But the Lakers coach did not see things that way.

Even without Anthony Davis lobs, without LeBron James passes and drives, without Danny ‘Deadshot’ Green patrolling the perimeter, the Lakers wouldn’t change their standard. They expected to see their winning streak continue.

“One of the strengths of our team is our depth, and we expect to go out, take the floor, compete at a really high level,” he said. “And we expect to win.”

And they did. Not meekly, but with conviction — dominating Oklahoma City (22-17) early in a lopsided 41-19 opening quarter, then stamping out every single surge for a 125-110 with the parts of the roster that are supposed to compliment — not survive without — Davis and James. In expanded roles, the remaining Lakers thrived.

No one underlined that like Kyle Kuzma — a regular starter turned sixth man this year — who rang the bell for a season-high 36 points. He snuffed the last threat of Thunder recovery, with a baseline floater and a dagger 3-pointer with under two minutes to go.

Off the court, his week has been clouded by trade speculation. On it, he reminded everyone why the Lakers fought to keep him this summer, shooting 15 for 24 from the field, including four 3-pointers.

With 23 points in the first half, Kuzma set off a sizzling night for the Lakers’ offense which shot over 51 percent and made 12 of their first 15 threes on the night.

Starting for James was Rajon Rondo, who has been alternately praised and maligned as one of the most up-and-down players of the season. But he was vintage against Oklahoma City and a bitter rival in Chris Paul, finishing with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists.

Even down the roster, little-used players shined in spot duty. Troy Daniels, who hadn’t scored since Jan. 3, poured in 12 points in his first meaningful minutes in weeks. Quinn Cook (11 points) hadn’t played in 10 of the previous 14 games for the Lakers, but he played capable backup — at least for one night.

It turned out, oddly enough, to be the Lakers’ largest margin of victory over the Thunder, who they now have a 3-0 record against after two previous squeakers in November — back when their biggest guns were all available to play. The Lakers also improved to 5-0 in the second game of back-to-backs, where they’ve often shined.


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