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Russell Westbrook Returns With 21 Points to Beat Phoenix Suns

Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook returned from a six-month layoff and scored 21 points in a 103-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Westbrook wasted no time getting back to his shooting form with 5 of 16 from the field, 2 of 18 from beyond the arch and 11 of 14 from the foul line.  The all-star point guard has been out for tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee during the second game of last year’s NBA playoffs.

Though he shot poorly at the 3-point range, Westbrook was pretty satisfied with his performance.

“I just missed some easy ones but that will come,” Westbrook said. “I’m able to do what I want. I could be better but that’s all right. That’s expected. I’m not expected to come back and be bionic man. I’m just going to work my way through it.”

Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images Russell Westbrook returned weeks ahead of schedule and scored 21 points in OKC's home opener.

Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images
Russell Westbrook returned weeks ahead of schedule and scored 21 points in OKC’s home opener.

Kevin Durant collected 33 points and 10 rebounds with 10 of 19 shooting and 11 of 13 from the foul line. The Thunder won their fifth straight home opener and defeated Phoenix for the 11th straight time.

Suns’ Eric Bledsoe played 40 minutes and went for 26 points and a career-high 14 assists. Point guard Goran Dragic left the game with a sprained ankle early in the third–he never returned. Gerald Green and Channing Frye netted 21 and 19 points, respectively,

Phoenix led 79-73 after a 3-pointer by Bledsoe with 7:46 left, but the Thunder scored next eight points, including layups by Westbrook and Reggie Jackson that put them ahead 81-79 with 6:11 left in the game. After that, Pheonix was unable to recover and got their first loss of the season.

“Our guys fought hard and that’s a good team and we had a chance to win on their court, so I’m pretty happy with the effort,” Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said.

The most impressive player on the court was clearly Westbrook, who left his coach inspired by his efforts.

“There are two things that (Westbrook) does at a high level,” Brooks said. “He wins. He’s a winner. The guy plays the game like it’s supposed to be played. It’s not always going to be perfect, but he plays with everything he has every single night. To me that’s inspiring. The second thing is leadership. It’s taken him some time to get that. Now he is our leader.”

Game Notes:

Ibaka had 10 rebounds; Dragic had 10 points before exiting. Green shot 5-of-10 from the 3-point range. The Suns visit New Orleans on Tuesday looking to stay above .500 while Oklahoma City hosts Dallas on Wednesday.

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