The crowd roared when Russell Westbrook was introduced, and he gave Thunder fans what they had been anticipating for a month.
Oklahoma City's point guard scored 32 points in his first game back from a broken right hand, and the Thunder rolled past the Knicks 105-78 on Friday night.
Westbrook was injured in the second game of the season and hadn't played since. He returned in grand fashion, making 12 of 17 shots, including 3 of 4 3-pointers, and adding eight assists and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes before checking out late in the third quarter because the Thunder were in control.
"It was exciting, man," he said. "I'm just blessed to be able to go out and play the game I love to play, especially with my teammates. The crowd was great, the energy was high. So it was fun to be out there."
He said his conditioning was good, but not great.
"The crowd helped me out," he said. "I'll fight through it. Just keep going and keep going, and hopefully, somebody calls a timeout."
Knicks coach Derek Fisher, a former Thunder point guard who has played with and against Westbrook, saw what he expected from the three-time All-Star.
"I think that's the way Russell plays no matter what the situation is," Fisher said. "First game or 80th game, he's going to play with a lot of energy, intensity and passion. He was great tonight, but they were a better team than us tonight."
Amare Stoudemire had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who shot 39 percent from the field and scored a season-low point total in their third straight loss. Carmelo Anthony, a Top 10 scorer in the league, missed his second straight game with back spasms. He said before the game he was unsure when he would return.
Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and Jeremy Lamb added 13 points for the Thunder, who won consecutive games for the first time this season. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant still hasn't returned from a broken bone in his right foot, but he has been practicing.
Westbrook had 10 points and four assists in the first 7:13 to give the Thunder a 21-5 lead. After the second of back-to-back 3-pointers, he motioned like he was putting a gun back into a holster. By the time he took a break with 3:33 left in the first quarter, he had 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting and had four assists.
The Thunder continued to roll. Lamb came off the bench for Westbrook and scored 11 points during a 15-3 run that gave Oklahoma City a 40-13 lead.
Westbrook returned and he stayed hot. He had 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the first half to help the Thunder take a 59-33 lead at halftime.
Westbrook's lob to Andre Roberson for an alley-oop dunk put the Thunder ahead 67-40 in the third quarter, and Oklahoma City cruised from there. The Thunder's largest lead was 37 points.
"It wasn't just Russell," Fisher said. "Overall they were at a higher rate than us. The energy was higher, and we just couldn't meet it."