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Russell Westbrook Returns And Thunder Power Is Restored

Nicole Kim |
November 4, 2013 | 2:45 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Westbrook's return helps OKC narrowly avoid a 1-2 start to the season (Keith Allison/Flickr).
Westbrook's return helps OKC narrowly avoid a 1-2 start to the season (Keith Allison/Flickr).
Fans and teams across the league were in for a shock last night as Russell Westbrook made an early return from a torn meniscus injury. He was projected to miss the first four to six weeks of the season. But as most NBA fans already know, Westbrook doesn't do slow and easy.

Looking more pumped up than ever, Westbrook scored 21 points, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out seven assists in 33 minutes of play as the Thunder bounced back from an ugly loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 103-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns in their home opener. OKC's performance last night served as proof that Westbrook's presence will be crucial to their postseason fate. 

With its dynamic duo back in action, the Thunder avoided an embarrassing 1-2 start to the season. Westbrook and Durant combined for 54 of the team's 103 points, 22 of them from the free-throw line.

However, as expected, there were several moments where Westbrook showed clear signs of rustiness like when he lost his handle on the ball and missed a couple connections with his teammates. "It could be better. It was alright," he said. "But that's expected. I didn't expect to come back and be bionic man."

Phoenix certainly put up a good fight as they held on to more leads than OKC throughout the game. They were led by Eric Bledsoe, who had a breakout night with 26 points and a career-high 14 assists. Unfortunately for the Suns, one of their top players, Goran Dragic, had to leave early in the third quarter after rolling his ankle. His status has not yet been disclosed.

Despite the victory, last night's game showed that OKC has a lot of work to do beyond the arc if they want to maintain their dominance in the West, as they finished 2-for-18 or 11.1 percent in three-point shooting. "Obviously, we've got to shoot the ball much better," said head coach Scott Brooks in a post-game interview. "We can't continue to shoot that from the 3-point line. I don't like to talk about it much but it's hard to hide 2 for 18. But I will say this - I believe in the guys taking shots. They're getting good looks."

The Thunder have three more games this week against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, the Washington Wizards on Sunday and against the Pistons in Detroit on Friday.

Reach staff writer Nicole Kim here.



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