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Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook provides a lift in his return

In his first game back from a pair of knee surgeries, Russell Westbrook put up 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
by Anthony Slater Published: November 3, 2013
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After a five-month absence, meaningful basketball finally returned to Oklahoma City on Sunday night.

And it came with a major game day surprise.

Hours before tip-off, news leaked that Russell Westbrook, the Thunder's All-Star point guard who was expected to be out until at least December, would return a month early to the OKC lineup.

And come game time, it was a good thing he did, as Westbrook led the Thunder to a 103-96 win over the Phoenix Suns in the home opener.

“I'm comfortable,” Westbrook said postgame. “Very comfortable. I'm making any move I want. I missed some easy ones that I usually make, but that will come.”

In his first game back from a pair of knee surgeries, Westbrook put up 21 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

But more important than the numbers, he controlled the game with his athleticism and skill, while opening up opportunities for his unburdened teammates.

“When you have a guy like that, who can easily erupt for 40 points, he just gets everybody open with his aggressiveness,” Kevin Durant said. “He was able to make it easier for me, Reggie (Jackson) and Serge (Ibaka).”

Down the stretch, his presence was particularly important.

After re-entering the game with 7:48 left, with OKC trailing the pesky Suns 76-73, Westbrook erupted for eight points and three assists in the closing moments.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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