It was a big night for the Thunder with the return of Russell Westbrook on Friday as they defeated the Pelicans 102-91. Not only did Westbrook return, but Oklahoma City got to see what a rotation would look like with their trio of stars.
Westbrook, who was recovering from a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left knee, joined teammates Carmelo Anthony and Paul George for the first time this season and contributed nine points on 3 of 5 shooting. Even though Westbrook only played in the first quarter, he was a big influence on the offense by making plays and getting the ball to Anthony, George and Steven Adams.
“[Westbrook’s] got speed that you can’t scout for, that you can’t plan for,” George said, according to ESPN.com. “It’s a definite luxury to have a guy with you on the floor with you. He’s going to create so much stuff for me and Carmelo. It was good, it was good to get a glimpse of that.”
It may have only been for 10 minutes, but the Thunder got a chance to see how it would work with their three stars on the court together in rotations. Anthony checked out first, while George and Westbrook tag-teamed plays. Westbrook then checked out and Anthony subbed back in for George.
“That’s one thing Coach has sat down with myself, sat down with Russ, Carmelo, is he wants us to be ourselves,” George said. “He wants us to bring what makes us special, just do it within the confinement of this team. That’s what’s going to make the game easy for everybody.”
There have only been two preseason games, but there was a noticeable difference in the flow of the Thunder’s offense compared to their 104-92 loss to the Rockets on Tuesday.
“We’re just trying to figure it out,” Anthony said. “We want to play fast, we want to play quick, but I think with Russ you almost have to play quick. If he passes it to you and you’re open and you don’t shoot it, he’ll get mad at you. That’s something since he’s been in practice we’ve been working on. But we don’t know, we’re just playing basketball, seeing what works, trying see what doesn’t work, and when the time comes we’ll see what works and stick with that.”