);
Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook's season-high 40 points and fourth quarter outburst pushes Oklahoma City Thunder past Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns gave the Paul George-less Oklahoma City Thunder all they could handle before Russell Westbrook took over in the fourth quarter.

The Suns boasted a slim one-point lead over the Thunder heading into the game's final frame but it didn't take long for Oklahoma City to flip the switch.

OKC led by two when Westbrook checked back in the game with nine minutes remaining. They had that lead up to 11 with six and a half minutes left, then the former MVP decided it was takeover time.

Westbrook scored 11 straight points for the Thunder over the course of three minutes to keep Phoenix out of reach. He scored 15 of the Thunder's last 20 points, stepping up huge in George's absence.

He finished with a season-high 40 points to go with 12 rebounds and eight assists to end Oklahoma City's two-game losing streak.

This night comes as a huge scoring lift to Westbrook's season, as he's posting the lowest points per game, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage since his second year in the league. While he's still averaging a triple-double with 10.7 rebounds per game and a league-best 10.2 assists per game, his shooting stroke has not been there.

And he has not had to rely on it either - George is posting the best offensive numbers of his career and the Thunder represent the league's second-best defence, just one-tenth of a point behind the Indiana Pacers in terms of defensive rating.

It's a scary thought for the rest of the league considering OKC is 22-12 and hold the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference despite Westbrook's poor shooting. It helps explain their mediocre offensive rating (19th in the league) but because of their stout defence, that has not drawn much attention.

If Westbrook could bring his field goal percentage (42.2 percent) and 3-point percentage (24.8 percent) closer to his career averages in those categories (43.5 percent field goal, 30.8 percent 3-point) the Thunder could surely be the greatest threat to de-throne the Golden State Warriors in the West.

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