The lights went down, the tribute video played, and on the night of his return to Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was announced just as he had been for the better part of 11 years, only this time, it was for the other team.
Fans gave a rousing ovation, and Westbrook ran to two different corners of the court to pump up the crowd, but once the time came for tip-off, Thunder fans were re-focused and ready to watch the home team compete against one of the best in the Western Conference.
The Thunder (22-16) grabbed another solid win as they defeated the Houston Rockets (25-12) in convincing fashion 113-92, and the ending was a great ending for a perfect night.
Chris Paul Shows Out
One of the more underrated storylines of the evening was the fact that Chris Paul was also playing against his former team, the Houston Rockets, and it just makes sense that he would want to play well.
In his first matchup with the Rockets back in October, Paul finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, but tonight’s performance was even better.
Tonight’s game was much different for Chris Paul, and with it came a number of different highlight moments, like when he nutmegged Isaiah Hartenstein for his final bucket of the night.
Chris Paul ended the evening with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals to cap off a spectacular performance and send his former team packing with a loss.
Sharing the Love
So many times this season the Thunder has had a group of guys score in double digits, and tonight was no different. 5 different players finished with at least 15 points for OKC, and while the bench was generally ineffective, it was not an issue because of the contributions of the Thunder’s main guys.
Danilo Gallinari, who missed the matchup with the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, led OKC with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists in his return. Gallinari has been solid for the Thunder all season long, despite the fact that his future in OKC is uncertain.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added in 20 points for the Thunder to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists, and the young fella played a solid game despite being matched up with Russell Westbrook most of the time.
Chris Paul had a great game, as mentioned earlier, and Dennis Schröder added in 16 points and 5 rebounds for another quality performance off the bench. Steven Adams, who has been on a tear lately, filled out the stat sheet with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists, not to mention the fact that he held Clint Capela to just 8 points.
The Thunder’s scoring parity has made all the difference this season, and while it is currently unknown if any roster changes will be made prior to the trade deadline, if OKC continues to share the ball like they have over the last month and a half, then they very well could find themselves making some noise in the playoffs.
The Lakers in Town
The Thunder hosts the Los Angeles Lakers (30-7) on Saturday in what will surely be yet another great game. Last time these two teams played, the Thunder played it down to the wire, but the Lakers came out on top by 3. LA will be coming off of a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks (23-14) Friday night, so the Lakers may be tired come Saturday night.
Tip-off for that game is at 7 PM, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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