Kevin Durant has been the last player introduced during the announcement of the starting lineups since the Thunder came to town.
But on Sunday night, Durant volunteered to give up his customary place in introductions. Instead of being last, Durant allowed Russell Westbrook to be the final starter introduced as he rejoined the lineup for the first time since April 24.
And the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd ate it up.
Westbrook, who customarily is the first player introduced, received a thunderous ovation.
When asked about the gesture, Durant deflected the attention, preferring to not take credit.
Westbrook appreciated hearing his name nonetheless.
“It's a blessing, man,” Westbrook said. “You can't take things like that for granted. Just (having) the opportunity to get your name called and the opportunity to play the game of basketball is great.”
A portion of the Thunder's home opener against the Suns was blacked out Sunday night.
Technical difficulties with transmission affected Dish, DirecTV and Cox customers for approximately one minute, according to a team spokesman.
The interruption occurred late in the second quarter.
SHOOTING STRUGGLES CONTINUE
Westbrook's return didn't do anything to help the Thunder's early shooting woes.
OKC missed 11 of its 12 3-point attempts in the first half and was just 1-for-15 through three quarters.
The Thunder finished 2-for-18 from 3-point range. Durant made both the Thunder's 3-pointers.
OKC is now 15-for-68 on 3-point tries in three games.
“Obviously, we've got to shoot the ball much better,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We can't continue to shoot bad from the 3-point line. I don't want to talk about it much, but it's hard to hide.”
DRAGIC GOES DOWN
Suns starting guard Goran Dragic left Sunday's game with a sprained left ankle early in the third quarter.
Dragic rolled his ankle on a drive to the rim, and he immediately asked his team to intentionally foul so that he could exit the game with 10:08 remaining in the quarter. Dragic then was assisted to the Suns locker room and did not return.
He finished with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Nick Collison on Westbrook — “It's huge to have him back. He's a big part of our team. We've missed him, for sure. It's been obvious with our play. We struggled without him. It's not just going to be ‘Add him and everything is great.' We still have a lot of work to do. But he's one of the best players in the league. He's huge for us, and he's done a lot since he's been here. So it's a big deal for us to get him back.”
Thunder players wore a special blue patch on the right of their jerseys. It was a cutout of the state of Oklahoma to commemorate the spirit and strength Oklahomans displayed following the May storms. Sunday's game is the only contest in which the Thunder is scheduled to wear the patch. … Rookie center Steven Adams addressed the crowd just before tip-off. … Former Oklahoma State recruit Gerald Green scored 21 points with eight rebounds in 34 minutes off the bench for the Suns. He made seven of 14 shots, including five of 10 3-pointers. … There were 13 ties and 20 lead changes Sunday. … The Thunder has now won 11 straight against the Suns, including the last six in Oklahoma City.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY