Chris Paul, Thunder spoil Westbrook's return
LOS ANGELES, USA – Danilo Gallinari scored a team high 23 points and Chris Paul delivered 18 as the Oklahoma City Thunder spoiled the return of Russell Westbook with a 113-92 rout of the Houston Rockets on Thursday, January 9 (Friday, January 10, Philippine time).
Paul also dazzled with 5 assists and 4 steals and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tallied 20 points for the Thunder, who won for the seventh time in 8 games.
Oklahoma City scored 37 first-quarter points to lead by 16, and the lopsided game was never closer than double figures the rest of the way.
Paul said it was refreshing to have a one-sided victory for a change.
"We played so many close games it is nice to have a cushion, especially against a team like this," Paul said. "Because we had a big lead, they had to shoot a lot of threes. We will take the win."
Westbrook was just 1-of-6 from three-point range and 14-of-26 from the floor. The Rockets' other major star, James Harden, was just 5-of-17 from the field and 2-of-9 from behind the three-point line to stumble to a season-low 17 points.
Westbrook doesn't like to play back-to-back games and the Rockets played Wednesday. Westbrook sat out that one so he could be well rested to face his former teammates
But on Thursday, he took an early seat on the bench, coming out of the game halfway through the 4th quarter with the outcome decided. Westbrook then acted like he didn't want anything to do with his new team, choosing to sit by himself on the far end of the bench closest to the locker room at Chesapeake Arena.
The Thunder showed a short video tribute of Westbrook before the game as the crowd of 18,200 stood and cheered.
Russ returns to OKC. Here's our tribute video he watched in the arena tonight. pic.twitter.com/tNsf3J8nGe— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 10, 2020
Westbrook played 11 seasons for the Thunder, helping Oklahoma City to 9 playoff appearances and one NBA finals, before being traded to the Rockets in the offseason for Paul.
The deal involved Paul and 4 draft picks going to the Thunder. Less than a week before trading Westbrook, the Thunder sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for second-year guard Gilgeous-Alexander and veteran swingman Gallinari.
All of the players the rebuilding Thunder received in those trades played big roles in Thursday's decisive win.
“Russ - it’s so fun to play against him because he’s so competitive."— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 10, 2020
Chris Paul caught up with @ALaForce after the Thunder notched a convincing win in Brodie's return to OKC. pic.twitter.com/1ubVslBkZB