The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

November 3, 2013

Westbrook returns to starting lineup in Thunder win

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook wasn’t expected back to be back for a couple more weeks. The Oklahoma City guard’s rehab process was scheduled to last until at least later this month.

But as Thunder fans have found out over the year, Westbrook has his own timetable on doing things. The All-star guard made his season debut Sunday against the Suns six months after inuring his knee. He racked up 21 points, seven assists and some timely clutch shots to help the Thunder beat the Suns 103-96 at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City.

“It was huge,” Westbrook said. “First game, home opener. Our fans were ready to come out and cheer for us. We came out and played well. I missed some easy ones, but that will come. It could be better. It was all right. But that’s expected. I didn’t expect to come back and be bionic.”

With 3:05 left in the game, the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe knocked down a layup to cut the Thunder’s lead to 90-87. But Westbrook responded with a quick drive to the basket and put Oklahoma City back up by five with 2:32 left.

After forcing the Suns into a bad shot, the Thunder went to Derek Fisher, who was fouled while making a jumper in the paint. The three-point play increased their lead to 95-87.

Phoenix answered with 3-pointers by PJ Tucker and Channing Frye.

With Oklahoma City (2-1) leading 95-92, Westbrook attempted to put the game away. He drove into the lane again for a layup, but the ball lipped out. However, Durant was right behind him for the putback dunk with 32 seconds left.

“We rotated and someone left Durant wide open for the offensive rebound,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Maybe if we get that board, it’s different. That’s all you want is to have a chance.”

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