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Thunder Back Atop West with Win Over Rockets


The Oklahoma City Thunder were certainly dismayed to lose Russell Westbrook to another significant injury last week, but they proved they have enough offensive firepower to win without him on Sunday – at least in the short term – as they routed the Houston Rockets 117-86.

As usual, Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 33 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, but other players stepped up their respective games to fill the void left by Westbrook’s absence. Jeremy Lamb put in a career-high 22 points and Reggie Jackson – who started in Westbrook’s place – added 16 points and eight assists as the Thunder improved to 25-5 on the season, good enough to retake first place in the Western Conference.

While other games in their recent stretch of wins have been close, Sunday’s victory over Houston was never in doubt as the Thunder never trailed and held a 32-point lead at one point. For Houston, the loss marked the worst of the season thus far.

“We just had a tough time making shots tonight,” said Rockets center Dwight Howard, according to ESPN.com. “That happens. We’ve got to come out better. We’ve got to find a way to get ourselves going. That’s it.”

Meanwhile, the Thunder are confident they can keep things rolling without Westbrook, as everyone on the squad understands the need to pick up the scoring slack.

“The team’s going to pick it up,” Jackson said. “We’re going to do things collectively. We’re going to find a way to play, but we all know our limitations. We all know what we’re good at. . We don’t know, necessarily, where we’ll get it from each and every night, but we’re just trying to go ahead and find our shots and continue to take them.”

We’ll have to wait and see if OKC can maintain its perch atop the West this week as it takes on the conference’s second place team, the Portland Trail Blazers (24-6), on Tuesday.




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