OKC Thunder annihilate Rockets in Russell Westbrook’s return: player grades

JANUARY 9: Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the game (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
JANUARY 9: Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the game (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
JANUARY 9: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets is introduced before the game against the OKC Thunder (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Best OKC Thunder Reserve:

DENNIS SCHRODER. A. . PG. Oklahoma City Thunder

Kudos to Dennis Schroder who deserves an award for putting up with some of the most ridiculous calls this season. When Harden is allowed to get away with some of his hi-jinx to be called for palming the ball and one of the softest fouls we’ve witnessed all season while he got hammered a few times without the benefit of the whistle deserves special recognition.

Like his starting counterparts, he scored in double figures with 16 points on a highly efficient 7 of 11 from the field adding five rebounds, one assist and connected on two of four perimeter shots. He also delivered a plus 18 in the plus/minus box and his only downfall was the three turnovers.

Best Opponent:

Houston Rockets. RUSSELL WESTBROOK. A+. . PG

More from Thunderous Intentions

Keeping it real —

First, it would’ve been a travesty if Russell Westbrook hadn’t played well enough to get the nod in this area. Then again, I’m not sure I’d have given it to Harden even if he had better stats. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.

From the tip, everyone knew it was going to be an emotional night for the former OKC Thunder superstar and it was great the franchise recognized his contributions. The fan base cheered him but also knew enough to switch over to cheering the existing squad instead of cheering Russ the entire game. He is now the opponent and other than the opening and closing of matches should be treated as such.

Westbrook was dialed in early and showed frustrations throughout the match as his teammates failed to deliver the same energy or finishing power as he did. In the end, he registered the high point tally for his team with 34 points, two rebounds, five assists and as he is wont to do seven turnovers.

Notably, by failing to register the triple-double the OKC Thunder remains the only team the Brodie hasn’t checked off in that regard.

The crowd at the Peake cheered him as he left the floor and as is typical for Westbrook postgame he went up and hugged owner Clay Bennett. He took to the podium and also called Thunder fans the best in the NBA and spoke of how much he appreciates the fans and people of OKC.

His best quote was “The fans here, the people — they never did me no wrong, I have no bad blood here in the city from the fans, nobody in the organization because they (the fans) gave me all they all they have and I gave them all I had”.

In closing:

I’ll dive deeper in the three takeaways in the morning but suffice to say this was the best of all worlds. Fans got to praise Westbrook, get the win and do so in convincing fashion.

Next. Choices loom for Thunder – buy or sell, lottery or playoffs. dark

Next up the OKC Thunder play the Lakers on Saturday with the potential for Anthony Davis to be out given his hard fall against the Knicks.

For a full box score of tonight’s game, head over to this link courtesy of ESPN.