Game Recaps

Russell Westbrook returns as OKC tops Phoenix

Russell Westbrook returns as OKC tops Phoenix

Russell Westbrook

In Russell Westbrook’s first game back from knee surgery, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Phoenix Suns 103-96.

Despite another lackluster shooting performance from the three-point line, where the Thunder shot 2-18, Oklahoma City was able to rely on Westbrook and Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter as they pulled away late for the victory. The Thunder outscored the Suns 36-26 in the final 12 minutes, to win the home opener at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Initially expected to miss the first four to six weeks of the season, Westbrook showed signs of his old self, as he consistently attacked the rim, and either finished at the basket or found the open man. Nobody knew what to expect from him, and people questioned whether his explosiveness would be where it once was, but he silenced all skeptics and led the way late for the Thunder.

After missing the first two games of the season, Westbrook scored 21 points, and dished out seven assists for Oklahoma City.

Durant had a quiet 33 points on 10-19 shooting from the field, and 10-13 from the free throw line, while grabbing 10 rebounds. However, the biggest concern for the Thunder, once again, was poor shooting from long distance.

Coming into the night, Oklahoma City was shooting a mediocre 26 percent from the three-point line. Aside from Durant going 2-5 from three, the rest of the Thunder shot a combined 0-16.  Of course, coming away with the victory is what matters, but this will continue to be an issue for head coach Scott Brooks and the Thunder moving forward.

Serge Ibaka added nine points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, and Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson played well off of the bench, contributing eight and 10 points respectively.

The Suns out-rebounded the Thunder by a close margin, 43-41, but after going back and forth for most of the first three quarters, Oklahoma City was able to rely on their stars down the stretch, as they took over in the final few minutes of the game.

Oklahoma City also forced 25 turnovers on Phoenix, which led to 25 points, including eight from Suns guard Eric Bledsoe.

The Thunder will take on the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN at 8:30 pm.

Keys to the Game

Ball Movement
Ball movement was good tonight. The Thunder had 20 assists, and with Westbrook back they looked much improved. However, the offense stalled a few times, as the Thunder settled for three-point shots and passed up on better scoring opportunities.

Scoring
Russell Westbrook’s presence was huge for Oklahoma City. His scoring really helped the Thunder get over the hump against a pesky Suns team. The bench pitched in almost 40 points, which was huge for the Thunder. Three players, Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher and Jeremy Lamb combined to score 27 points.

Three-Pointers
It was bad. Oklahoma City shot just 2-of-18 from behind the arc. However, a huge three by Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter was a difference maker. The Thunder have admitted that three-point shooting is an issue. They need to figure something out before it costs them a game or two.

Looking for Oklahoma City Thunder tickets? Thunder Obsessed has you covered! We invite you to follow Thunder Obsessed on Twitter and like Thunder Obsessed on Facebook. Here’s a great and unofficial census from Best Tickets.

Looking for Oklahoma City Thunder tickets? Thunder Digest has you covered at Totallytickets.com! We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!
Click to add a comment
0 comments
Game Recaps
@thunderobsessed

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

More in Game Recaps

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone scores as OKC throttles NOLA 121-95

Chuck Chaney - Editor EmeritusFebruary 11, 2016
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder play sloppy but get win over Suns

Chuck Chaney - Editor EmeritusFebruary 8, 2016
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder fall to Warriors in NBA battle of best

Chuck Chaney - Editor EmeritusFebruary 6, 2016
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook is insane, leads OKC to 117-114 win over Orlando

Marshall ClaytonFebruary 3, 2016
Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and John Wall

Westbrook’s Triple-Double Propels Thunder to Victory

Alex Joseph - Senior WriterFebruary 1, 2016
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

2nd half surge leads OKC to 116-108 win over Houston

Chuck Chaney - Editor EmeritusJanuary 29, 2016
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder beat T-Wolves 126-123

Ryan RobertsJanuary 27, 2016
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

KD’s 44 points fuels overtime win over Knicks

Chuck Chaney - Editor EmeritusJanuary 26, 2016
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Thunder win 7th straight with 109-106 victory over Dallas

Aaron AlbertsonJanuary 22, 2016

Copyright © 2012-15 ThunderObsessed.com