Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook shows no rust in preseason opener

Thunder star takes advantage of smaller Jeremy Lin, scores 13 points in the first six minutes of the game. Westbrook sat the entire second half of preseason opener vs. Rockets.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 10, 2012

It comes as no surprise that the most explosive player on the Thunder's roster erupted from the opening tip in the team's preseason debut.

Russell Westbrook scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the first quarter of the Thunder's 107-105 loss to Houston on Wednesday night in Hidalgo, Texas.

Westbrook took advantage of Jeremy Lin, the former New York point guard whose exploits earned him the nickname Linsanity, from the start, posting up the smaller Lin on the left block to generate easy buckets in between a barrage of pullup jumpers.

Westbrook scored 13 points in the first six minutes and finished with three assists, two rebounds and just one turnover in 16 minutes. After going 6-of-9 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range, Westbrook sat the entire second half.

IBAKA A LATE SCRATCH

Forward Serge Ibaka did not play in Wednesday's opener after sustaining a left quad contusion.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Ibaka is day-to-day and was held out more for precautionary reasons.

Ibaka banged up his leg in Tuesday's practice, and the team decided to sit him out after he could participate in only a portion of Wednesday's shootaround.

“He'll be fine (Thursday), hopefully,” Brooks said. “It is truly a day-to-day (injury).”

LIGGINS LOOKS GOOD IN THUNDER DEBUT

DeAndre Liggins made the most of his opportunity Wednesday night, impressing with a solid all-around performance that put his toughness and versatility on display.

Liggins, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, is only a training camp invitee on a non-guaranteed contract. But he played an inspired game against the Rockets, showing off his defensive skills and an ability to work around the rim for easy baskets.

But it was his hard-nosed, man-to-man defense on the Rockets' guards, including this year's 12th overall pick in Jeremy Lamb.

“He plays defense with everything he has,” Brooks said. “And you love guys that play with their hearts out every possession. He's determined to get a stop. I like his toughness. I like his length. He's always pursuing. He never gives up on plays. He's one of those stay-and-play-type of guys. You can never ever have enough of those guys.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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