MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The last time his team was in Memphis, Russell Westbrook wasn't.
He was at home, watching a pair of Thunder playoff losses on TV, nursing the first significant injury of his career while witnessing his team's title hopes quickly fade because of it.
“It was tough, man,” Westbrook said of his third-party viewing. “It was tough. This team ended our season last year.”
But on Wednesday night against the Grizzlies, Westbrook, always one to search and find even the slightest motivation, finally got his first crack at a little revenge.
“(Last time), I was obviously at the house,” Westbrook said. “But (tonight), I was back, and I wanted to set the tone.”
And did he ever. Westbrook exploded for his third straight near triple-double, overwhelming the Grizzlies from the tip and sitting the entire fourth quarter of Oklahoma City's eventual 116-100 win over Memphis because of the big lead he helped create.
BOX SCORE: THUNDER 116, GRIZZLIES 100
In the first quarter, Westbrook jumped on an overmatched Grizzlies backcourt. He had a quick 10 points, four rebounds and four assists, showing no signs of a guy who played 35 minutes in another city the night before.
“Russell's a no-excuse player,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We can play back-to-back, we can play four in five nights, we could play every night for a month. He's going to come in and play the game that he loves to play every night.”
Then late in the second quarter, after the Grizzlies cut the Thunder lead to three, Westbrook was the key to a 17-5 run to close out the half.
He started it by hitting a pair of free throws, continued it by assisting on four straight Thunder hoops and iced it with a long-range 3-pointer.