Russell Westbrook showed no fear.
A guy whose game is built on athleticism and aggressiveness wasn’t tentative in his return last Sunday night — on his first possession he came off the pick and exploded into the paint only to draw the foul. All night long he looked like his old self, splitting double teams and attacking the rim — even throwing an alley-oop to Durant (above). Against the Suns, Westbrook finished with 21 points and 7 assists in the Thunder’s win over the Suns.
Oh, Westbrook was rusty — 5-of-16 shooting and he had 4 turnovers — but he said after the game on a nationally televised interview that was to be expected. He’s right. There is no substitute for playing at game speed and that’s what Westbrook has to adjust to.
But what Thunder fans saw looked a lot more like the team they know and love than what they saw in the playoffs against the Grizzlies last season. Or what they saw the first couple games of this season.
Thing is, the Thunder shooting still isn’t good, their sets remain a bit too predictable, their team effort inconsistent — yet with Westbrook and Kevin Durant (33 points) teams just cannot hang in. Too much talent. That’s how the Thunder win games.
Westbrook was back looking like his old self, and when he shakes the rust off the rest of the West should be worried. Actually, they should start worrying now before the lines get long.