The moment we have waited and anticipated since schedules were released. The Return of The Brodie to the Peake. A game that we all knew would be as exciting as it was emotional. Deep down however, we all wanted Houston to take the biggest possible L the Thunder could hand them. And that’s what happened with a 21pt victory as the Thunder rolled the Rockets 113-92, spoiling Russell Westbrook’s homecoming. Wanna shoutout my date for having tissues ready when that one single tear dropped during the tribute vid. What a game this was. Now let’s get to the facts:
- Seeing Russ in person, in a Houston uniform wasn’t as weird as we thought it’d be.
I think everyone in the arena needed to get past the initial shock of seeing Westbrook playing elsewhere in person and then it was like nothing happened. After the emotional tribute video and the eruption of cheers and MVP chants, Russ hit one shot, we were happy, Chris Paul hit a three and OKC showed out once again. Showing that not only is this city behind their team, they’re willing to move on from the Russell Westbrook era and embrace what’s happening now.
- OKC is right where they need to be.
Watching this team last night, most of whom played with Russ the last 1-2 years, it was obvious how much harder they’re playing for each other this year than years past. Last night was a testament of not only how hungry the Thunder are but how loyal they are to the guys next to them. From the opening tip, this game felt different. It matched the intensity of a close out playoff game. As much as OKC misses Westbrook, it seemed as though not only the players, but all of Chesapeake Arena wanted to demolish the Rockets.
- This felt like a revenge game for Chris Paul AND Oklahoma City.
The first shot CP3 hit was met with almost as much of an eruption as when they announced Westbrook. And in that moment, you saw something different in his eyes. It was a look I’ve only seen from Paul a couple other times: Game 4 of the 2011 Playoffs against my Lakers; Paul ended with a triple double. Then in the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Warriors; a series that was completely shifted by his injury in game five. Last night CP3 put up 18 points (50% shooting), 6 rebounds and 5 assists with 4 steals to go along with a great offensive game. All in less than 30 minutes of action. And in every minute you could see that he was focused on one thing: running up the score and playing top shelf defense while doing it.
- The Thunder are underrated defensively.
James Harden is leading one of the top three offenses in the NBA, averaging 38 points and 12.4 free throw attempts per game. Last night, Terrance Ferguson helped to hold this man to 5/17 shooting and 2/9 from deep with 9 free throw attempts. Before back-to-back garbage time threes from Chris Clemons, only TWO Rockets players scored above 10 points. Literally the only player to hit more than five shots was Russell Westbrook.
- It’s time to move on from Russell Westbrook.
For the first eleven years of his career, Russell Westbrook was loyal to Oklahoma City. However, at age 31, he had to make a business decision and try to put himself in a position to win a championship. It stings when the cornerstone of your franchise leaves but these things happen. And there’s been an ample replacement for both him and Paul George. OKC spent the last two seasons on the outside looking in around this time. Literally watching Russ go berserk night in and night out in an effort to push the Thunder over the playoff hump. As of right now, the Thunder sits in 7th place well on the way to 6th. No doubts in anyone’s minds. The team seems secure, not a ticking time bomb waiting to detonate at a moment’s notice. This Thunder team looks like a complete unit who is willing to play anyone. Even the Rockets. Bring on the Playoffs.
Tomorrow I’ll be conflicted. The Thunder are playing my Lakers at 7pm in OKC and while I’ll scream “Lakers in fo’ bruh” to the death of me, this game could be another wild one. LeBron and company are riding high at 30-7. But that’s sure to be a record the Thunder will be ready to add an L to.