Russell Westbrook showed little sign of rust in his NBA season debut but his 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists weren’t enough to lift Oklahoma City to a first win of the young campaign.
Former NBA Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook, had missed the first two games of the season as he continued his return from arthroscopic knee surgery on September 12.
He started in his customary spot and played 35 minutes — the most of any Thunder starter — but it was the Sacramento Kings who came up with their first win of the season 131-120 in Oklahoma City.
Iman Shumpert scored 26 points for the Kings, one of seven Sacramento players to score in double figures.
That included an impressive double-double of 22 points and 10 assists from De’Aaron Fox.
Even after missing all of training camp and the pre-season, Westbrook immediately raised the Thunder’s intensity level.
He scored his first points on a driving layup assisted by Paul George less than two minutes into the contest.
He and George combined for 61 points, but the Thunder defence, rated 10th in the league last season, was again too inconsistent.
Elsewhere, the Cleveland Cavaliers remained without a victory since the departure of superstar LeBron James, who landed with the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency after last season.
The Cavs, who have played in the last four NBA finals and won the title in 2016 with James leading the way, dropped their home opener to the Atlanta Hawks 113-111, falling to 0-3.
In a game billed as a showdown between rookie point guards Trae Young and Collin Sexton, Atlanta’s Young exploded for 35 points and 11 assists, with six three-pointers.
Young, drafted fifth overall, became the third rookie since 2000, after James and Golden State star Curry, to surpass 35 points and 10 assists in an NBA game.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits from Richard Barrett)