OKC warmly welcomed Russell Westbrook for his return to Oklahoma. But did not give him a gift by defeating Houston (113-92).
Photo Credits: lequipe.fr
There was a hectic ovation, welcome banners, cries of love and even “VP, MVP” who tumbled from the stands of the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City to celebrate Russell Westbrook’s first homecoming, since leaving for Houston. After eleven years of madness, geniuses and blows in the OKC jersey, which earned him an MVP title in 2016-17, Westbrook was the little prince back on his planet. The leader of the Rockets, visibly excited and delighted by the welcome of his former club did not hide his joy and happiness to be celebrated in this way.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 10, 2020
It is undoubtedly this euphoria which earned him to start on the hats since Westbrook split 18 points in the first half. But the concern is that the defence of OKC was already in place and that we could not say the same of that of Houston, as evidenced by a first-quarter where the guys of Thunder led 37-21 having shot at … 54% success.
Little evening for Harden and Houston
This trend would become more pronounced over the minutes. Like a James Harden, who arrived on the floor as the best NBA scorer of the season so far (38.5 points per game on average) and who left Oklahoma having scored only 17 points, 5 out of 17 on fire … So, even if Russell Westbrook was on fire (34 points), Houston lost to its lowest total points scored in a game this season (92), and after a frenzy useless at three points (11 out of 40!)
Strong in defence, OKC was also able to find offensive arguments, based on a Danilo Gallinari, in double double mode (23 points – 11 rebounds), well supported by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (20 points), while Chris Paul did the job well (18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 interceptions), and that Dennis Schroder was efficient off the bench (16 pts). This fine effort by the OKC guys put an end to the Houston streak, which remained on three straight victories.