Found March 05, 2014 on Fox Sports Southwest:
OKLAHOMA CITY - Caron Butler got in early and played plenty. Tuesday night, against the 76ers, it was the kind of game that set up perfectly in a situation that was also pretty close to ideal for the newest member of the Thunder. A chance for Butler to play against a bottom-of-the-league kind of team. An opportunity to get some minutes, learn the offense in what was as close to a no-pressure setup as possible. A storyline to himself. Instead Butler sat most of the fourth quarter, as did Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But instead of talking about Butler, his experience, what he'll ultimately bring to the Thunder and his game, this 125-92 victory was Russell Westbrook at his best and Kevin Durant doing MVP kind of things. Couldn't have gone better for Westbrook. Couldn't have been smoother for Durant and it couldn't have been an easier transition for Butler. "Well, I haven't won in about a month," Butler joked. "It feels great to get a win." That part was easy. This game was good right up until about tipoff. The 76ers came in 15-45 and left losers of 15 in a row. Meanwhile, Westbrook was so good, so quick. He had eight assists in the first half of the first quarter, finished with a career-best 14 assists and had a triple-double wrapped up with 4:55 to go in the third quarter. He played just 20:17, the second-fastest triple-double in NBA history. "He's a special player," Brooks said after Westbrook's eighth-career triple-double. "Plays the right way. Give him credit. He plays hard." No need to give Westbrook credit. He's earned it, and on a night where Butler was the story coming in and Durant played the leading role, as always – this time scoring 42 points on 14-of-20 shooting, Westbrook's game is on the rise. "It's crazy," Westbrook said. "I'm just trying to get my groove back. Blessed to be able to do that in such a short amount of time." Westbrook played poorly and sluggishly in losses to Miami and then against the Clippers, his first two games after the All-Star break, but he's been better in each of the past three. Tuesday was his best, and his triple-double was his second in his past seven games played. Westbrook finished with 13 points on four-of-nine shooting, had 10 rebounds and the 14 assists. "Guys were open," Westbrook said of his assists. "My job was to give them the ball. I just play off my instincts. I never come in looking to shoot first, pass first, rebound first." The performances by Durant and Westbrook certainly took the attention away from Butler, who was signed by the Thunder Saturday and went through his first practice Monday. Butler entered the game about 7 minutes into the first quarter to a loud and hearty ovation. He scored two points on one-of-four shooting, had five rebounds and an assist. "The thing I liked was he played basketball the right way," Brooks said of Butler. "We have to continue to add that mentality to our team. If he had a shot he took it. If he had to pass, he passed it.I liked what I saw. He's going to get more comfortable with what we do." Butler's arrival in Oklahoma City comes just a week after Kendrick Perkins was declared out for the next six weeks with a groin injury and just days after Thabo Sefolosha injured a calf that will cause him to miss the next four weeks. "I was just trying to find my spots," Butler said. "To find spots, play off Russ, Kevin and those guys. I"m finding out where opportunity is at. Butler's arrival also comes as the Thunder have put some space between what was an ugly three-game losing streak after the All-Star break. Now OKC has won three in a row and in the near future Butler will see more time and get more shots, but he won't have to do near as much if this trend of Durant and Westbrook dominating continues. "They're talented," 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "Kevin ended up being Kevin. He (Russell) is so gifted." As for Butler? Well, we'll learn more about him in the near future. Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Caron Butler solid in first OKC appearance

Caron Butler planted himself in the left corner, a bit out of the fray, as a way to ease himself into his first possession with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not happening. As Kevin Durant drove toward the lane, sucking in the defense, he deftly fired a cross-court line drive, hitting Butler with what should have been an open look. But instead, it drilled an unsuspecting Butler right...

WATCH: Russell Westbrook soars for the tomahawk slam

Tweet The Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder appear to have hit their stride once again, thanks in part to Russell Westbrook‘s return to form lately. After missing close to two months after another knee surgery Westbrook returned February 20th, and the Thunder promptly went on a three-game losing streak. But OKC has now won their past two games and Westbrook...

Skidding Suns must deal with Durant and Westbrook

Russell Westbrook certainly appears to be all the way back from his knee injury, and he's got the Oklahoma City Thunder rolling along with him. After yet another superlative performance, Westbrook looks to help the visiting Thunder to a fourth consecutive victory overall and 12th in a row over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. The Thunder (46-15) dropped their first three contests...

Russell Westbrook sparks Thunder win over Bobcats

Russell Westbrook jumped the passing lane, gathered the steal, bolted down the sideline and hammered home a tomahawk slam over a retreating Kemba Walker. All in a blur. It was the type of athletic sequence that has come to define the early part of Westbrook’s career. But it was the kind of top-level explosion we had yet to see in his latest return from knee surgery. Good sign...

Russell Westbrook Gets Triple-Double In 21 Minutes vs 76ers (Video)

The Philadelphia 76ers are just bad right now, and their 15th loss in a row against the Oklahoma City Thunder tells you all that you need to know about the situation. A triple-double is difficult enough to achieve in four quarters of an NBA game, but Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook managed to pull off the feat in only 21 minutes of playing time in a 125-92 win against...

Russell Westbrook Needs Just 20 Minutes to Record Triple-Double

Triple-doubles do not happen every day. Many players will go their entire career without doing it. So when  Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook recorded one in just 20 minutes of action (10 rebounds, 14 assists, and 13 points), well--to call the accomplishment incredible would be an understatement.Here's a clip of his franchise record 11-assists in the first half...

Stop The Hype – Durant Is The MVP

 Getty Images William Gonzalez Oklahoma City Thunder Writer Through the first three months of the season Kevin Durant has dominated the NBA. Now all of a sudden Lebron has a few good games and he is considered a lock to win the MVP award again. Why? Durant’s numbers haven’t slipped as he is averaging 35 points over his last 5 games. Lebron has averaged 37 over his last 8 games...

Russell Westbrook Named Brand Ambassador For Zenith Watches

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is all about his brand, and he recently added a heavy hitter to his portfolio. According to Globe Newswire, Zenith Watches has named Westbrook, its new brand ambassador.  Zenith says it chose Westbrook for his “commitment to excellence, skilled technique and innovative style” – values shared by these two visionaries. ...

Westbrook completes triple-double in 21 minutes as OKC routs 76ers

When the worst defensive team in the NBA rolled into town Tuesday, it didn’t take long for the Thunder to realize it could do just about anything it wanted offensively. Russell Westbrook then decided to do something that’s never been done before. Westbrook set a Thunder record by registering 11 of his game-high 14 assists in the first half as the Thunder pummeled Philadelphia...

Report: Milwaukee Bucks Sign Tony Mitchell to 10-day Contract

Tony Mitchell signed by Milwaukee Bucks on 10-day contract. The Milwaukee Bucks filled up an open roster spot after the departure of Caron Butler by signing NBA D-Leaguer Tony Mitchell to a 10-day contract. Andrew Gruman Fox Sports reports. The 6’6″ scoring forward is a stud on the offensive end of the floor, putting up averages of 19.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists 1.2 steals...

Ish Smith Could Have Bright Future

(Photo via nba.com) On August 29th, 2013 Ish Smith and Viacheslav Kravtsov were traded to the Phoenix Suns for Caron Butler, immediately, Smith had a surprising impact on his new team, in which he had a career high for assists with 8 in a 104-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, things got even better for Smith when he became the third player to get two 8 or more assist games...

The Real Russell Westbrook Has Officially Returned

Last night’s performance by Russell Westbrook officially solidifies his return to full-time work. Last night’s 4th quarter performance by the Thunder defense was certainly a welcome change from the previous two 4th quarter outings, which I found rather surprising seeing that not only was Kendrick Perkins out after straining his left groin, but Thabo Sefolosha didn’t play either...

Muhammad Ali and Kevin Durant Take A Picture

One poised with the talent to be one of the greatest and one that already is. Muhammad Ali is in attendance at tonight’s Suns/Thunder game and prior to it Kevin Durant got to meet the legend and posted this picture on Instagram. H/T: FTW

Durant's defensive versatility an added bonus

Here’s a brief list of some of Kevin Durant’s defensive assignments during the Thunder’s recent six-game homestand: •Blake Griffin, the Clippers’ hyper-athletic nightmare of a power forward. •LeBron James, the Heat’s do-everything small forward. •Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers’ lightning quick 6-foot point guard. •And Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies’ behemoth 7-foot...

Thunder vs Bobcats Recap

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki William Gonzalez NBA Writer Russell Westbrook had his best game since returning from injury. He sank all seven of his shots in the first half helping OKC to jump out to a 61-55 lead at halftime. Russell is looking more like his old self every game. Early in the third quarter he had a steal and raced down court elevating for a one handed dunk which electrified...
Thunder News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.