Thunder 103, Suns 96

The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In his first game back, Russell Westbrook scored 21 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 103-96 win over Phoenix on Sunday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder's Kevin Durant added 33 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field to go with 10 rebounds and two steals.

The Suns (2-1) were led by Eric Bledsoe, who scored 26 points and had 14 assists. Channing Frye added 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.

With 3:05 left in the game, Bledsoe knocked down a layup to cut the Thunder's lead to 90-87. But Westbrook responded with a quick drive to the basket and put Oklahoma City back up by five with 2:32 left.

After forcing the Suns into a missed shot, the Thunder went to Derek Fisher, who was fouled while making a jumper in the paint. The three-point play increased the Thunder's lead to 95-87.

Phoenix answered with 3-pointers by PJ Tucker and Frye.

With Oklahoma City (2-1) leading 95-92, Westbrook attempted to put the game away. He drove into the lane again for a layup, but the ball lipped out. However, Durant was right behind him for the putback dunk with 32 seconds left.

The Suns were not done. Gerald Green knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to cut lead to two. Westbrook was then fouled and hit twp from the line to put Oklahoma City up 99-95.

Phoenix tried to run the same out-of-bounds play it used to get Green his previous wide-open shot. This time, Thabo Sefolosha was all over him and forced a turnover.

Westbrook and Durant closed out the game with four straight free throws.

Even though it was the Thunder's third game of the season, the insertion of Westbrook into the lineup made it seem like a season opener.

Coach Scott Brooks wasted little time making sure his point guard got into the flow. He was fouled posting up Bledsoe and scored the game's first points less than a minute in.

Yet the Suns didn't fall into the trap of watching Westbrook. Frye kept the team steady early. That included nailing two 3-pointers and blocking two shots in the first half.

Green came off the bench and supplied the Suns with some scoring punch. With Sefolosha and Jackson guarding him, he posted 10 points in 11 minutes.

While it took awhile for Westbrook's shooting touch to return, the all-star point guard showed the rest of his game was still intact. That included dropping a left-handed no look pass to Durant, which he finished with a dunk that gave Oklahoma City a 40-39 lead with 2:45 left in the first half.

However, Phoenix led 45-44 at halftime.

The Thunder created several highlight real plays during the game. That included a Westbrook-to-Durant alley-oop dunk in the third quarter that sent both players running downcourt screaming.

But each time, the Suns quietly responded with a jump shot that silenced the crowd. That included Green, who's hot shooting continued into the second half as the Suns led 70-67 heading into the fourth quarter.

NOTES: With Westbrook making his return to the Oklahoma City starting lineup, Brooks knows the team will have to go through an adjustment. That is especially true for Reggie Jackson, who had replaced Westbrook in the starting lineup. "Reggie has gotten some great experience," Brooks said. "Now our bench will be much better. He's going to fulfill that role at a much more confident level. I think there is going to be an adjustment process. It's going to take some time to go through that process." ... Miles Plumlee has been a pleasant surprise for Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek the first week of the season. The 6-foot-11, 255-pound center posted two double-doubles in the team's first two games. He also had three blocks in each game. "When guys get their opportunities, sometimes they step up," Hornacek said. ... No one may be happier to see Westbrook return than F Serga Ibaka. In the 11 games Westbrook has missed with injury, Ibaka shot 34 percent from the field.
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