A victory was all Westbrook said he was expecting before the game on this emotional night. And his presence immediately pumped life into Thunder team that was so listless in its last outing that it suffered its worst loss since February 2011.
“I've been saying it forever. There's two things he does at a high level,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He wins. That's one. He's a winner. The guy plays the game like it's supposed to be played. It's not always going to be perfect, but he plays with everything he has every single night, and, to me, that's inspiring.
“And the second thing is leadership. And it's taken him some time to get that, but it's taken every young player in this league (time) to become the leader that they become … It took him some time. But now, he's our leader.”
Westbrook helped the Thunder overcome a scrappy Suns squad that wouldn't go away by scoring eight points with four assists in the fourth quarter. He made four of his 11 foul shots in the final 30 seconds to keep the Suns at bay.
“It was just good for him to be back,” said Kevin Durant, who finished with a game-high 33 points. “I know how much he loves the game, and for him to come out and do something he loves after being out for so long, it was just great to see him.”