Before a freak collision with Patrick Beverley knocked Russell Westbrook out of basketball action for the remainder of the 2013 playoffs, he had never missed a basketball game on any level in his career: high school, college, and in the NBA. After missing the Thunder’s first two games of the season — and following various reports he’d be out for the first month of the season, at least — he returned tonight to help the Thunder get the victory.
The Thunder didn’t look so great against the Timberwolves on Friday night. They lost by 19 after traveling to the Target Center in Minneapolis. It was OKC’s worst loss in more than two years, and Kevin Durant scored just 13 points in 27 minutes. Enter Russell Westbrook.
It was Phoenix — a team hoping to receive a fortune cookie simply reading, “Wiggins” — who lost to the Thunder. So tonight’s 103-96 victory wasn’t as pretty or as positive for downtrodden Thunder fans as it might have been if they blew the Suns off the court. But Eric Bledsoe went off for 26 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds and 8 turnovers to keep Phoenix in the game.
Except Russ was back, too, and he didn’t ease into the game like many others in his situation might have. After being cleared by the Thunder’s medical staff to play earlier today, he exploded into his first game back like he detonates towards the hoop. He even found time to toss this no-look (he looks) pass to Durant after driving around an approaching double-team on the wing.
While it’s just Westbrook’s first game back (and he did struggle shooting from the field), just having him around to give opponent’s something — other than Durant — to think about, opens up the court for everyone else. KD rebounded from the ugly ‘Wolves game on Friday to score 33 points on an efficient 10-for-19 from the field.
OKC finally has a full team again. Even if Russ needs to get his timing back, his presence alone is great news for the Thunder.
What did you think of Russell’s return?
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