Westbrook scores 21 as Rockets beat Thunder

HOUSTON (AP) — After Russell Westbrook helped the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday in his first meeting against his former team he insisted there weren’t different emotions in facing the guys he played with for so long.

“When I hoop I have no friends,” he said. “On the court they know not to talk to me.”

But as soon as Westbrook finished saying that, he walked right down the hall and bounded into the visitor’s locker room for a reunion with his former teammates.

James Harden scored 40 points and Westbrook scored 21 and fell an assist shy of a triple-double as the Rockets got the 116-112 win.

Some players seemed taken aback to see Westbrook in their locker room and a confused Dennis Schroder asked him what he was doing in there.

Westbrook smiled and said, “Same thing I’ve been doing, coming to check on my homies.”

Westbrook had 12 rebounds and nine assists after notching his 139th triple-double in his last game to pass Magic Johnson for second-most all-time.

A three-pointer by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 19 seconds left got Oklahoma City within three. Westbrook made one of two free throws before fouling Nerlens Noel, who made both free throws.

But Harden, who was 21 of 22 from the line, made four free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

It was the first game between these teams since a blockbuster summer trade reunited Westbrook with Harden and sent Chris Paul to Oklahoma City after the nine-time All-Star failed to help the Rockets to a title in two seasons in Houston.

Paul had 15 points, four assists and five rebounds.

Gilgeous-Alexander had 22 points and Schroder added 22 points to lead the Thunder, who fell to 1-3.

Houston used a 39-point third quarter to take an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter.

“We picked up our defensive intensity,” Harden said. “That’s going to be what gets us over the top, what gets us where we want to go. We got a little lackadaisical in the first half. Second half we picked it up and look at the results.”