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Russell Westbrook aggressive, rusty in return to Thunder

Nov 4, 2013, 12:44 AM EDT

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.

  1. casualcommenter - Nov 4, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Not a Thunder fan, but happy to see him on the court.

    His initial injury wasn’t that severe – the Thunder (wisely) chose to quickly have him choose surgery rather than risk making the injury worse, and when he suffered a minor setback in his rehab, they again took the patient route by having him take his time. He looked to be at 100% physically but just a little out of rhythm, which should come back quickly.

    Hopefully, we get an exciting NBA season with as many players staying healthy as possible.

  2. antistratfordian - Nov 4, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    31% shooting is not really rusty for Rusty. He’s shot 31.3% or less in 21% of all his career games (91 out of 439). Last year he did it 14 times. And 4 turnovers is about his career average. So I’d say the Russell Westbrook of yore is BACK!

    • adamsjohn714 - Nov 4, 2013 at 4:58 AM

      Using your math (which I assume is correct and am impressed by someone actually doing research. Not enough people actually do any research and just spout nonsense, so some effort from commenters is great to see) Westbrook shot above 31.3% in 79% of all his career games…….

      So, good job doing research and making a post backed by information.

      Bad job interpreting that information, though.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 5, 2013 at 10:17 PM

        You’re only saying it’s a “bad job interpreting” because you’re unaware of other vital information – like how common it is for similar scorers to shoot 31.3% or less. I’ll save you the suspense: It’s more common for Westbrook than it is for others. Even for a chucker like Melo it only occurs 12% of the time – for Kobe and Derrick Rose it’s only 13% of the time – and these guys were already at the extreme end (for a guy like LeBron it’s 6% – in case you were curious). So Westbrook is trailblazing here!

        I don’t think anyone can say that it’s odd for him to have that kind of a night.

  3. spacemaker101 - Nov 4, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Now that Westbrook is back I don’t see us losing another game..

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