Westbrook leads Thunder past Nuggets without Durant
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook had 21 points and a career-high 17 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 119-94 on Sunday night without Kevin Durant.
Durant was out after a procedure on Sunday to replace a screw that was causing soreness in his surgically repaired right foot. The reigning NBA MVP is expected to return this season.
Westbrook, playing with two new starters, put on a show. He had 10 assists in the second quarter and 12 in the first half.
Enes Kanter had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder, who have won six straight and eight of nine. Serge Ibaka added 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Ty Lawson scored 17 points and Danilo Gallinari added 16 for Denver, which has lost seven of eight.
Westbrook rested late in the first quarter, and then put on a dazzling passing display. He returned with 8:40 left in the first half and his team leading 36-24. He recorded 10 assists over the last part of the half, and Oklahoma City’s lead ballooned to 67-42 at the break.
According to STATS, Westbrook was the first player since Detroit’s Brandon Jennings on Jan. 11, 2014, to register 10 or more assists in a single quarter.
Westbrook added five more assists in the third. He left for good with three minutes remaining in the period and the Thunder ahead 91-62. He also had eight rebounds in just 28 minutes.
Nuggets: Denver shot 28 percent in the first quarter to fall behind 36-18. … Denver had three assists and five turnovers in the first 12 minutes. … Denver was outrebounded 60-42.
Thunder: Kanter and F Kyle Singler started for the second straight game after being acquired at the trade deadline. They combined for 12 of Oklahoma City’s 36 points in the first quarter. … Oklahoma City shot 60 percent in the first 12 minutes. … Westbrook’s streak of consecutive made free throws ended at 45.
Nuggets: Host Nets on Monday.
Thunder: Host Pacers on Tuesday.
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