Thunder-Pelicans Preview

Russell Westbrook excelled in his first game back from injury, and Kevin Durant is about to join him.

The reigning MVP will make his much-anticipated season debut in the opener of a three-game road trip Tuesday night against the scuffling New Orleans Pelicans.

The Thunder (5-12) secured their first win streak in 2014-15 in Westbrook's first game since Oct. 30. The point guard had 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting, eight assists and seven rebounds in his return from a fractured right hand, a 105-78 rout of New York on Friday.

"It was exciting, man," said Westbrook, who did his damage in only 23-plus minutes. "I'm just blessed to be able to go out and play the game I love to play, especially with my teammates."

His most valuable teammate will be on the floor with him against New Orleans (7-8). Durant returned to practice last week and will be back on the floor Tuesday, just under seven weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken bone in his right foot.

He won't be a full-go in his first regular-season game since being named the NBA's MVP after averaging 32.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Coach Scott Brooks said Durant will play about 30 minutes against the Pelicans.

First-round draft pick Mitch McGary (foot) and Grant Jerrett (ankle) are also working their way back from injuries while playing for the club's NBA Development League team.

"There's obviously a transition period to blend everybody together," Brooks said. "The good thing about our guys is that they understand that and they're going to continue to work with each other to get the process in place as quickly as we can."

The Thunder's slow start - including their 1-7 mark on the road - has put them 4 1/2 games behind eighth-place Phoenix in the Western Conference, but with Durant and Westbrook back, there should be plenty of time to rally. They'll try to aid their cause by adding to their modest win streak and extending New Orleans' season-high skid to four games.

The Pelicans nearly overcame one of their worst shooting performances of the season Saturday at Washington. Anthony Davis' dunk with 3:48 remaining gave them a one-point lead, but New Orleans was held to three points thereafter in an 83-80 loss.

Davis finished with 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting after totaling 28 points and making just 9 of 26 shots in the prior two games. Jrue Holiday (17) and Ryan Anderson (11) were the only other scorers in double figures for the Pelicans, who shot 37.0 percent.

New Orleans is averaging 86.7 points and shooting 39.8 percent during its losing streak after averaging 103.9 points on 46.1 percent shooting in its first 12 games.

"We're definitely frustrated. We gave away a couple of games we could have won. We have to find a way to get up out of it. We're playing our hearts out," Davis said.

Davis hasn't faced the Thunder since Dec. 12, 2012, because of various injuries. Tyreke Evans had a career-high 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists during one of those absences April 14, and the Pelicans snapped a 10-game skid in the series with a 101-89 victory.

Westbrook, who was given the night off in that Oklahoma City loss, is averaging 26.0 points on 52.0 percent shooting in his last three meetings.

Oklahoma City is 14-1 in the last 15 matchups with both Westbrook and Durant on the floor.

Promoted Stories

More NBA


Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.


Click the share icon to bookmark us.