There wasn't any "easing back into it" for Russell Westbrook on Friday night.
It was a thoroughly dominant performance from start to (early) finish, as Westbrook played just 24 minutes and rested the entire fourth quarter with Oklahoma City leading by 30-plus points at times. At the end of the first quarter, Westbrook had single-handedly outscored the Knicks 14-13.
Westbrook started and made just his third appearance of the season after breaking a bone in his right hand during a Nov. 30 loss to the Clippers. Although he wore a brace on his shooting hand, Westbrook looked confident in his jumper, knocking down seven of his 11 attempts from outside the paint. He also drove the baseline on one play, dunking hard without hesitation.
"It felt good," Westbrook said during a post-game interview. "I was able to keep my legs for the high-pace [game]. It was good to get back on the floor, get back in the groove. It felt great. ... [The win was] very important. It gives us a sense of confidence. We have to have a sense of urgency."
After advancing to the 2014 Western Conference finals, the Thunder have stumbled out of the gate without Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the league's reigning MVP. Oklahoma City went 4-10 in Westbrook's absence and currently sits five games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
Serge Ibaka chipped in 14 points and six rebounds for Oklahoma City in the win.
Oklahoma City improved to 5-12. New York fell to 4-13.