Westbrook night off allows Thunder to get creative

BY foxsports • November 24, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Thunder gave Russell Westbrook the night off Sunday.

Looks like Utah got the night off, too.

Westbrook and the Thunder got the break they needed in the team's longest home stand of the season. And with San Antonio, Golden State and Minnesota coming in, a walkover Utah was a nice breather.

A few thing to feel good about after the Thunder's 95-73 victory

1.) Good for the Thunder for sitting Russell Westbrook down
No, you don't want to have Westbrook on the bench. Ever. Franky, it was surprising he sat. Westbrook came into Sunday having started every home regular season game in Thunder history. That's 202 in a row, so sitting him was certainly not a standard move. It was a good one, though.

It makes sense for a lot of reasons, but another thing to consider is the development of Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka. With Westbrook out, Oklahoma City has to find a viable second option. With Westbrook in, the Thunder can generally coast by pretty much any team. With Westbrook out, there has to be some creativity on offense.

Ibaka has played like an all-star all year. Jackson has shown he's more than capable at point guard. Both played well against the Jazz on Sunday. Jackson had 10 points and seven assists. Ibaka had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in just 30 minutes.

With Jackson, Ibaka, Durant and Jackson the Thunder have a better, more-experienced closing-time lineup than the one that got the team to the Finals two years ago.

2.) Finally, the Thunder played and won a game like they were supposed to
Big favorites, supposed to win, etc. Yeah, so why hasn't that happened so far this season until Sunday? The Thunder fooled around with Dallas, Washington, Milwaukee and Denver in the past week –plus. Sunday against the Jazz, Oklahoma City got out to a big lead and then rested its starters in the fourth quarter.

That's what is supposed to happen against a Utah team that came into the game 1-13 on the season. And on a cold, icy night where you could forgive the crowd if it didn't bring its typical intensity, Oklahoma City came out and dominated. That's refreshing. Because of it, Oklahoma City led by as many as 37 and now is 6-0 at home this season.

3.) Get excited about the Thunder bench
Reggie Jackson will head back to the bench Wednesday when the Spurs come to town making the Thunder bench one of the best in the league.

Now, you have legit scorers in Jackson and Lamb, defensive presence guys in Nick Collison and Derek Fisher (who has been phenomenal so far this year) as well as wildcards in Perry Jones and Steven Adams. Jones was five-of-seven and made all three of his 3-pointers for 13 points in 19 minutes. Adams has been really good in bursts and has the most offense of any Thunder center. He's passed Thabeet as the team's No. 2 center.

Collison only played six minutes against the Jazz. Derek Fisher played only nine,  freeing up six others for extended minutes. The Thunder didn't need them Sunday, but they will in the future.

Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK