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Russell Westbrook's triumphant return leads Thunder to huge win over Knicks

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In his first game back, Russell Westbrook looked like himself and put together a dominant performance.

Even though the Spurs, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Mavericks and Grizzlies all won on Friday, it wasn't a good night for the West's top teams. Russell Westbrook is back and that should terrify them. A week after returning to practice the Thunder's point guard returned to the court against the Knicks and he looked as good as he ever has, scoring 32 points and dishing out eight assists in just 24 minutes on the court.

Westbrook missed 14 games with a broken hand but he showed no signs of rust. He assisted on the Thunder's first three buckets and scored 14 points in the first quarter alone. At the half he had 20 points and seven assists and OKC was leading by 26 after abusing New York on the offensive glass and in transition. The energy Westbrook brought to the table was noticeable, even to their teammates, as Anthony Slater form The Oklahoman reports:

"Really energetic. Even the locker room was different," Grant Jerrett said. "The vibe was good. Even running out on the court, the energy was good."

It's impossible not to be energized after plays like these:

Westbrook, for his part, seemed just glad to be on the court, as he told Darnell Mayberry:

"You get so used to sitting on the side...and now I got an opportunity to go out and hear my name called. You never want to take that for granted," Westbrook said. "Never. At any time. So I was just hyped to be able to hear my name and run out on the floor."

Having Russ back is huge for a Thunder team that can't afford to lose many more games if it hopes to make the playoffs. Oklahoma City sits at 5-12 for the season, the third worst mark on the Western Conference. Last season it took 49 wins to get to the payoffs, so if that remains the threshold this year, they will need to go 44-21 from here on out to grab the eighth seed. With Westbrook back in the fold and Durant already practicing and set to return soon, that's not out of the question.

The Western Conference, already a gauntlet, just got even tougher now that the Thunder are beginning to get healthy.