SAN ANTONIO: Russell Westbrook didn’t mind picking up the slack for the Oklahoma City Thunder who were missing reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant for the fifth-straight contest on Thursday.
Westbrook tallied 35 points and 11 assists as the Thunder beat the defending league champion San Antonio Spurs 114-106 in front of a Christmas Day crowd of 18,500 at the AT&T Center arena.
“Regardless of what’s going on, like I said before and I’m going to keep saying it, my job is to attack,” Westbrook said.
Last Thursday, Durant sprained his right ankle late in the first half of a loss to Golden State.
Westbrook also had five rebounds and five steals for the Thunder, who lost to the Spurs 4-2 in the playoff semi-finals last season.
On Thursday, he scored 20 points in the second half, helping Oklahoma City hold off a pair of Spurs rallies. Serge Ibaka added 21 points and Steven Adams engineered 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
The Thunder were plus-27 with Westbrook and Adams on the floor.
“We did a great job of being physical, using our length and our athleticism,” Westbrook said.
Tony Parker’s drive and dish to Tim Duncan for a dunk at 6:48 of the fourth quarter gave the Spurs a 93-89 lead. The remainder of the game belonged to Westbrook.