Starting Lineups: The Return Of Russell Westbrook

russell westbrook dunk vs phoenix

“His presence [was big]. Russ is Russell Westbrook, a three-time All-Star, 23-5-7 the last three years so you've got to respect it. He put pressure on the defense all night. He missed a few layups, but it was good to see him aggressive and not worry about anything and just play freely. He opened it up for a lot of people tonight." -- Kevin Durant on Sunday night

I remember looking down at the ESPN Bottom Line on Friday night while out with my folks having a brew or three, when I noticed the Oklahoma City Thunder were getting demolished by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Minnesota Bleeping Timberwolves. By 25 points. It was one of those moments that you act like you didn't see at all. Totally ignoring it. Of course you can't, because you have a brain and it happens to be slightly photogenic when it comes to remembering traumatizing things like your favorite team getting ransacked by a middling Western Conference opponent.

"Man, I can't wait until Russy gets back." -- Me

On Sunday night, the two-game suffering that was the Thunder without their fearless floor general was over and Russell Westbrook stepped onto the court at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City and went to work. Smiles were had from Kevin Durant, who found his opportunities to score slightly easier than before. Smiles were had from Scott Brooks, who didn't have to worry as much in trying to run a complex offense for his team to score. Smiles were had from players 3-12 on the Thunder roster, as setting into more natural roles on the team makes life easier for them. Most importantly, smiles were had by all the Thunder faithful who have had to defend their team from the vultures who are already plotting OKC's demise.

Yes, from saying that Oklahoma City would struggle to make it out of the first round, to saying that Scott Brooks should be fired (Well ...) to saying that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would be wise to leave OKC for Houston/DC/Los Angeles/etc., in free agency ... well, to all those people I'd suggest that you kinda chill the hell out and relax.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are back in full effect, and yes, there will be some growing pains in the future ... but there will also be growth spurts. (And maybe a trade or two.) How and when will this happen? No one knows, but as long as Westbrook and Durant are the one-two punch leading OKC, things will be just fine.

Here is your pertinent reading material for our supporters on this fine Monday. Enjoy.

Believing In Boogie: The Maturation Of DeMarcus Cousins - SB Nation

Klay Day: The Ascension of Klay Thompson - SLAM Online

Kendrick Lamar: "I Have Nothing Against Drake" - Complex

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Comes Out Spring 2014 - Kotaku

Black Players Could Get The Redskins' Name Changed By Next Week - The Shadow League

Air Jordan ‘Kobe Bryant’ PE Collection - Sneaker Files

“Play With Me If You Want, Cash Money Goin’ Broke…” – Juvenile’s ’400 Degreez’ Turns 15 - The Smoking Section

To Be Young, Gifted, Urban, and Employed - Very Smart Brothas

'Ender's Game' Vs. 'The Hunger Games': A Military Analysis - Wired

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