Westbrook returns, Thunder down Suns
Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Russell Westbrook returned to the Oklahoma City lineup after missing the entire preseason and the first two games of the regular season and led the Thunder to a 103-96 win over the Phoenix Suns.
Westbrook tore the meniscus in his right knee in Game 2 of the Thunder's first round playoff series with Houston a year ago. He underwent a pair of surgeries and was expected to miss the first 4-to-6 weeks of the regular season, but team doctors cleared him to play prior to Sunday's tilt with Phoenix.
The young Thunder star looked explosive in his return, tallying 21 points and seven assists. Westbrook also hit 11-of-14 from the foul line, including four in the final moments to seal the win for OKC.
"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," Westbrook said.
Kevin Durant dropped a game-high 33 points with 10 rebounds, and Reggie Jackson, Westbrook's replacement at point guard for the first two games, added 10 points and five helpers off the bench.
Eric Bledsoe played 40 minutes and went for 26 points and a career-high 14 assists to lead Phoenix, which lost point guard Goran Dragic to a sprained ankle early in the third.
Gerald Green and Channing Frye netted 21 and 19 points, respectively, as the Suns lost for the first time this season.
"Our guys fought hard and that's a good team and we had a chance to win on their court," Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said.
OKC trailed 79-73 after a Bledsoe triple when Durant sparked an 8-0 OKC surge, which included transition layups by Westbrook and Reggie Jackson that brought the crowd to its feet and forced a Suns' timeout.
Durant then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Westbrook darted through the lane and dumped off a pass to Serge Ibaka, who converted the layup plus a foul and just like that, the Thunder had a 90-85 advantage.
The Suns trailed by eight with less than two to play when P.J. Tucker drilled a corner 3 and Frye hit a turnaround jumper from the elbow to pull Phoenix within three. The visitors forced a stop but committed a costly turnover as Derek Fisher deflected a Frye pass and fell out-of-bounds saving it to Jackson. Durant tipped home Westbrook's miss at the other end for a five-point margin with 32 seconds left.
Green stepped into a 3 out of the timeout to pull the Suns within 97-95 but Westbrook made four straight at the line to ice it for OKC.
The Suns led 45-44 following an even first half in which neither team led by more than seven. Phoenix made six shots from behind the arc in the opening 24 minutes while OKC shot just 1-of-12.
Ibaka had 10 rebounds ... Dragic had 10 points before exiting ... Green shot 5-of-10 from 3-point range ... The Suns visit New Orleans on Tuesday looking to stay above .500 while Oklahoma City hosts Dallas on Wednesday.
11/04 02:04:17 ET