Thunder Rally

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Thunder Rally

By Tim Farley

Winning, thunderous slam dunks and scoring runs create smiles, laughter and happiness.
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, those combinations finally occurred Nov. 28 when All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook rejoined the lineup after missing 14 games.

His pre-game introduction created a playoff-type roar from the Oklahoma City faithful as one of their favorites made his way onto the court. Westbrook final stat line showed he was more than ready with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

After spanking the New York Knicks in late November, the Thunder is ready for a major turnaround after suffering through a winless streak that included six straight games.

After the 105-78 win against New York, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks and Westbrook were all smiles – a look that had disappeared in recent weeks.

Westbrook admitted he was pumped when his name was called during the pre-game intros.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “You get so used to sitting on the side, coming back here (locker room), taking a shower, putting a suit on, and coming out and sitting on the side. Now, I got an opportunity to go out and hear my name called. You never want to take that for granted, never, at any time. I was just hyped to be able to hear my name and run out on the floor.”

After the win, which was Oklahoma City’s second in a row following a 97-82 victory over Utah, Brooks called Westbrook “one of the great ones.”

“His determination and his ability to impact winning is reflected on what he throw out there every night,” the coach said. “He throws great effort and he plays with a force and an energy and a determination that’s hard to contain. You always have to know where he is on the floor. He can score and he can make plays for others and that’s what he does.”

The Thunder’s obvious improvement with Westbrook in the lineup was clear to New York guard Shane Larkin, son of former Major League Baseball star Barry Larkin.

“He (Westbrook) came out with a lot of energy and he just killed us tonight. He got into the paint whenever he wanted to. He was making his pull-ups in transition. He’s a dynamic player and whenever you let him start the game the way he started with three assists and two easy buckets, he’s going to have a good night,” Larkin said.

Oklahoma City got more good news when Durant returned to the lineup for a road game at New Orleans. However, the end result wasn’t what Thunder fans expected as the struggling Pelicans notched a 112-104 win. Still, Durant looked strong with 27 points on nine-of-18 shots from the field.

“I felt good after the first stretch of the game,” he said. “Just to get back in midseason form, it’s going to take some time. But no excuses for me. I’m out there, I’ve got to play as hard as I can, no matter what. I’ve got to go out there and be the best player and leader I can be.”

The Thunder also reported that forward Perry Jones is back on the active roster after suffering an injury during the early part of the season.

Oklahoma City returns home Dec. 9 against Milwaukee and then hosts LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Dec. 11.

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