Russ Plays 1st Quarter, Thunder Win
By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook was only on the floor for 10 minutes but he and his teammates gave everyone inside Chesapeake Arena a glimpse into what this this team could be.
"Having Russ back, it makes the game easier for myself, Paul (George) and everybody," said Carmelo Anthony. "It was just a matter of him working his way back and getting a feel for a game standpoint and getting a game pace. Other than that, it felt good having him back."
Westbrook is working his way back slowly from a PRP injection he had about two-and-a-half weeks ago. He scored nine points on 3-for-5 shooting and handed out four assists in OKC's 102-91 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night.
“(Russ) has speed that you can’t scout for and can’t plan for,” George said. “It’s definitely a luxury to have a guy like that on the floor with you.”
Anthony and George have seen it in practice the last few days but Friday night was the first time the Thunder's new Big 3 have played in a "regular" game atmosphere.
George lit it up in the 27 minutes he played, scoring 25 points on 7-for-14 shooting (3-for-7 on threes) and 8-for-10 at the free throw line.
“He does well at scoring without the ball, coming off picks, coming off of pindowns,” Anthony said. “We know to go get him. There are going to be nights like tonight where he has it going and we want to go to him.”
“It’s just reading guys,” George said. “I’m going to cut and try to put pressure on the defense at all times, which a lot of times opens up other stuff for guys. It’s always keeping them on their toes.”
Anthony, playing 17 minutes scored nine points on 4-for-10 and Steven Adams, who found the lane open all night when he needed it scored eight points on 4-for-4 shooting and grabbed six rebounds.
The Thunder shot 48.6 percent overall and as George, Anthony and Thunder head coach Billy Donovan have said it's going to take a while for things to mesh on offense. For guys to get used to each other's moves and favorite spots on the floor.
Defensively, OKC had a solid night, limiting the Pels to just 39 percent shooting overall and 31.3 percent from deep.
“Our defense continues to be a focus for us,” Donovan said. “Coming out of this second game I saw improvements in a lot of different areas and still areas where we have to get better.”
“Defensively we picked it up and played at a better pace, a better tempo,” George said. “It allowed us to get out offensively and explore the fast break a little bit. Overall I thought we looked good.”
Next up the Thunder will practice Saturday then play Melbourne, from the Australian league at 2pm on Sunday inside The Peake.