These are the games that prove the doubters wrong. The Oklahoma City Thunder were locked in an intense battle with the Charlotte Bobcats and Kevin Durant was having a very rare off shooting night. Enter Russell Westbrook.
In easily his best performance since his return from knee surgery, Westbrook moved to silence all the critics who were quick to jump on him when the Thunder went 0-3 since he re-entered the Thunder lineup. He scored a super-efficient 26 points on 10-12 shooting (including 4-5 from long range) and added 5 assists in just 25 minutes of game time.
The win gave the Thunder their second win in a row and the home crowd something to cheer about. With Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha out for the next 4 – 6 weeks, the Thunder were again forced to tinker with their starting line up and rotations throughout the game. Perry Jones III got the start and played 22 valuable minutes for a +3 return, while Steven Adams had 4 points and 6 rebounds in limited action due to foul trouble. Al Jefferson had a field day inside against the inexperienced Thunder frontline on his way to a team high 25pts on 10-16 shooting.
Durant struggled mightily, shooting just 8-24 from the field and missed all 6 of his attempts from long range. He was able to knock down all twelve of his foul shot attempts though and also added 6 rebounds and 5 assists, portraying his all around game and value to the Thunder squad. Reggie Jackson was back to his best providing some spark off the bench with 17 points.
The Charlotte Bobcats worked really well together and played to their strengths, showcasing a much improved game plan and maturity. It wasn’t that long ago that the Thunder were able to blow the Bobcats away, doubling their score in a half, but this season has seen some very intense battles – and for three quarters this was yet another example of that.
Heading in to the final term with just a four point lead, the Thunder dug deep and found some real rhythm on both ends of the floor to push the lead out further and further. They got the necessary stops and were able to convert these into baskets, outscoring the Bobcats in the final term 31-18.
The Thunder will now build on this win and will try to incorporate newly signed Caron Butler who signed with the team on Saturday and hopes to join the team shortly. The team will take the time to get him familiar with the game plan and systems, but with the injury to Sefolosha, his first appearance in a Thunder uniform might be sooner rather than later.