Russell Westbrook certainly appears to be all the way back from his knee injury, and he’s got the Oklahoma City Thunder rolling along with him.
After yet another superlative performance, Westbrook looks to help the visiting Thunder to a fourth consecutive victory overall and 12th in a row over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
The Thunder (46-15) dropped their first three contests after Westbrook returned from a 27-game absence, but he’s found his game in the past four and sparked Oklahoma City to victories in its last three.
Westbrook had 13 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in a season-low 20:17 in Tuesday’s 125-92 rout of Philadelphia, and he’s averaged 21.0 points, 8.2 assists and 58.0 percent shooting in the previous four.
The Thunder are averaging 118.0 points during their win streak.
"He made everybody better tonight," said teammate Kevin Durant, who led the Thunder with 42 points. "He was moving the basketball, he was aggressive to the rim. I think that’s why everybody got open, because of his aggressiveness. He just set the tone for us."
Westbrook’s triple-double was achieved in the smallest amount of playing time needed to accomplish the feat in 59 years.
"I’m just trying to get my groove back," he said. "I’m blessed to be able to do that in such a short amount of time. It was fun."
Westbrook has led the way during Oklahoma City’s 11-game run in the series, averaging 23.0 points, 7.5 assists and 49.4 percent shooting, along with a 2.41 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Suns (35-25) are hoping to get their star point guard back on the court soon, as Eric Bledsoe recently began practicing. He’s been out since Dec. 30 with a knee injury but could return in the coming weeks.
Phoenix’s depth at Bledsoe’s position took another hit Tuesday in a 104-96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, as backup Leandro Barbosa fractured his hand and could miss up to six weeks.
"Other guys will have to step up," coach Jeff Hornacek said.
Rookie center Alex Len made his first career start in place of Miles Plumlee, who’s out with a right knee sprain. Len had six points and six rebounds and is expected to start again in this game with Plumlee still sidelined.
"I thought Alex did a good job early," Hornacek said. "He got after it, got some rebounds for us."
Hornacek’s team has cooled down since a month-long hot streak, going 2-4 in its last six and allowing more than 110 points per game in that stretch. This game marks the end of a home-heavy stretch in which the Suns will have played 12 of 15 in Phoenix, with 15 of their last 22 after Thursday on the road.
Durant had 33 points and 10 rebounds to power the Thunder to a 103-96 home win over the Suns on Nov. 3 in the clubs’ only meeting of the season. Oklahoma City has won six straight road matchups and routed Phoenix 97-69 in the most recent one Feb. 10, 2013.