Westbrook honoredRussell Westbrook was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for December. Westbrook started all 15 games, averaging 15.5 points, 5.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds. Westbrook twice set career highs. He scored 30 points against Miami on Dec. 6 and surpassed that with a 31-point outing Dec. 29 against Phoenix. He set single-game career highs in assists (11) and steals (5).
BIRDMAN RETURNSChris "Birdman” Andersen, a fan favorite when the Hornets played in Oklahoma City, was asked his most memorable game in the Ford Center. "Sonic was giving away free tater tots if we got five dunks in a game,” Andersen said. "I had all five. I didn’t know anything about it until someone came up to me after the game and said everyone got tots... "I’ll never forget how this place was sold out almost every night. It’s great to get back out there in front of these fans.”
WORK THE REFDenver coach George Karl, who works the referees as much any coach in the league, scolded official Matt Boland late in the first quarter following a touch foul on the Nuggets J.R. Smith. "You call that but don’t call anything when a murder happens down here (on our end)?” Karl quipped. Later in the game, when referees ruled off a basket for hanging on the rim, Karl moaned: "Is the ball supposed to dunk itself?”
HOLIDAY LEFTOVERSWith the help of his foundation, point guard Earl Watson experienced a rare Christmas story when he adopted five families at Tinker Air Force Base. Each family had a parent deployed overseas. He took Christmas shopping lists, purchased items at Target and had the gifts wrapped. "It was a great thing to see the kids get so excited as they tore them open,” Watson said. "At some point, you hope they can do the same thing for another family and give back. You try to set a good example and hope it continues for other people.”
FAST BREAK...Kevin Durant drew his first technical of the season jawing with Dahntay Jones in the third quarter. ... The Thunder dressed out only 11 players. Nick Collison (fractured thumb) and Joe Smith (leg contusion) did not dress out. Kyle Weaver (sprained ankle) suited up but did not play. ... Chris Wilcox played without a brace or protective sleeve on his knee for the first time since suffering an injury on Nov. 10. ... Thunder officials took the T-shirt giveaway to a new level. A "roulette” wheel stopped on 308, which meant free T-shirts for all 250 fans in that section. BY MIKE BALDWIN