Russell Westbrook had 21 points and 7 assists in his first game back after suffering a knee injury in the first round of the playoffs. The OKC Thunder point guard was originally supposed to be out up to six weeks after he had a second knee surgery in early October but was cleared by team doctors to play earlier this afternoon. According to ESPN, this was three to five weeks earlier than team doctors originally thought.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks was pleased with Westbrook’s efforts on the court.
“There are two things that (Westbrook) does at a high level,” Brooks said. “He wins. 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. To me that’s inspiring. The second thing is leadership. It’s taken him some time to get that . Now he is our leader.”
Teammate Kevin Durant was also excited to have his floor leader back on the court.
“It was good for him to be back,” Durant said. “I know how much he loves the game. The crowd was great. Unbelievable. Classy group of fans. Always behind (Westbrook) and accepted him so well tonight. It was cool to see.”
After that awful loss to the Timberwolves where Durant scored just 13 points, I am sure he is ecstatic about the return of Westbrook and hoping this will take some pressure off of him in future games. Unlike Derrick Rose, Westbrook seems to be picking up right where he left off. Although the team will have to readjust to his style of play with him back in the mix the Western conference just got that much more interesting and the OKC Thunder that much more dangerous.