OKLAHOMA CITY – After a six-month layoff, Russell Westbrook looked a lot like his old self.
The All-Star point guard had 21 points and seven assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder, despite shooting 2 of 18 from 3-point range, beat the Phoenix Suns 103-96 on Sunday night.
Kevin Durant had 33 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who won their fifth straight home opener and defeated Phoenix (2-1) for the 11th straight time. The Suns last beat Oklahoma City (2-1) in December 2010.
Westbrook, sidelined after first tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee during the second game of the NBA playoffs, then having a medical setback, returned three to five weeks ahead of the team’s previously announced timetable. He said before the game he never thought it would take him that long to come back.
After the game he said he felt a little rusty but seemed satisfied with his effort.
“I just missed some easy ones but that will come,” Westbrook said. “I’m able to do what I want. I could be better but that’s all right. That’s expected. I’m not expected to come back and be bionic man. I’m just going to work my way through it.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks came away impressed with Westbrook’s outing.
“There are two things that (Westbrook) does at a high level,” Brooks said. “He wins. He’s a winner. The guy plays the game like it’s supposed to be played. It’s not always going to be perfect but he plays with everything he has every single night. To me that’s inspiring. The second thing is leadership. It’s taken him some time to get that. Now he is our leader.”
Brooks wasn’t as glowing about the team’s shooting.
“Obviously, we’ve got to shoot the ball much better,” he said. “We can’t continue to shoot that from the 3-point line. I don’t like to talk about it much but it’s hard to hide 2-for-18. But I will say this — I believe in the guys taking shots. They’re getting good looks. They’re going to fall.”
Eric Bledsoe scored 26 points — one off his career high — and added a career-best 14 assists for Phoenix, which opened the season with home wins over Portland and Utah. The Suns stayed with Oklahoma City thanks to 14-of-37 3-point shooting but eventually were done in by 23 turnovers.
Serge Ibaka added nine points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City.
Heat 103, Wizards 93
In Miami, LeBron James scored 25 points, Chris Bosh added 24 and the Heat beat winless Washington.
Pistons 87, Celtics 77
In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond scored 15 points each and Detroit kept Boston and first-year coach Brad Stevens winless.
Magic 107, Nets 86
In Orlando, Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Magic routed Brooklyn in Jason Kidd’s coaching debut.
Timberwolves 109, Knicks 100
In New York, Kevin Love had 34 points, 15 rebounds and five assists and Kevin Martin scored 30 points as Minnesota improved to 3-0 for the first time in 12 years.
Lakers 105, Hawks 103
In Los Angeles, Xavier Henry scored 18 points and Pau Gasol hit two tiebreaking free throws with 6 seconds remaining for the Lakers, who lost all of a 21-point lead.
Henry started at forward for the first time as a Laker and the 19th time in 137 NBA games. He was 5 of 11 from the field.