When the Oklahoma City Thunder lost Russell Westbrook to knee surgery, fans feared the worst, remembering the team's early exit from the NBA playoffs last season. However, the Thunder knocked off the Houston Rockets, 117-86, on Dec. 29 to win two straight games since Westbrook went down.
The first win was a close 89-85 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, but the huge blowout of playoff contending Houston was a surprise. The win was settled from the start as the Thunder jumped out to a 13-0 lead over the Rockets and Houston never scored their first basket of the game until Dwight Howard hit one after six minutes had passed in the contest.
Kevin Durant led the way with a double-double, scoring 33 points with 13 rebounds and five assists. Westbrook's replacement Reggie Jackson added 16 points and eight assists and young Jeremy Lamb scored a career high 22 points on eight-for-10 shooting, with five assists of his own.
After losing to the Toronto Raptors to break their nine-game winning streak, the Thunder have now won three straight, starting with a big Christmas Day victory and still hold the best record in the NBA (25-5) and sit comfortably atop the Western Conference.
Former Thunder star James Harden had a rough game, only hitting two of nine for eight points in the game while Dwight Howard finished with only nine points, hitting only four of his 13 shot attempts. It was Aaron Brooks (17) and Chandler Parsons (15) who led the way for Houston in the loss.
The Oklahoma City Thunder next welcome the Portland Trail Blazers to the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Dec. 31. Portland (24-6) sits only one game back of the Thunder and this game could be for the Western Conference lead.