“I put a big emphasis on myself to come out every night defending,” Westbrook said. “That's what I've been trying to do all season long.”
The Thunder improved to 14-4 after winning for the eighth time in the past nine games. Over those eight victories, the Thunder has won by an average margin of 17.3 points.
“As a team,” Westbrook said, “we're doing a better job of not focusing on who we're playing but focusing on ourselves and trying to find ways where we can get better.”
The Thunder led 54-44 at halftime, paced by Kevin Durant's 13 points. Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Martin added 10 apiece in the first half. Oklahoma City led by as many as 18 on three occasions in the second quarter, but this time the Hornets hung in longer than they did last time.
The Thunder, however, clamped down in the third quarter and outscored New Orleans 30-13 to pull away.
With the win, the Thunder moved to 5-0 in the second night of back-to-back games this season.
“We talked about it before the game. These games are really tests for us,” Collison said. “These are where we can really grow. When you're on a back-to-back and you're tired it's easy to give in but the good teams are able to fight that off mentally. We've been up and down the last couple of years with that. The season's young. But so far our focus has been a lot better.”