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Russell Westbrook pushes Thunder past Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves v Oklahoma City Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - DECEMBER 25: Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook #0 reacts after the Thunder scored against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of a NBA game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on December 25, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Thunder defeated the Timberwolves 112-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

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A dish to Jerami Grant for a 3-pointer, an alley-oop pass to Steven Adams for a dunk, an alley-oop pass to Grant for a dunk, a strike to Enes Kanter for a fastbreak layup, an alley-oop pass to Andre Roberson for a fastbreak layup, a high-five to a kid in the front row for an unforgettable Christmas memory.

Russell Westbrook ran out of teammates to involve. It was time to include the crowd in his explosive night.

Westbrook accounted for 64 points – scoring 31 and assisting 33 more on 15 assists – in the Thunder’s 112-100 win over the Timberwolves. After generating a three-point play for himself, Westbrook got assists on five straight Oklahoma City possessions in the fourth quarter, spurring an energetic and joyous celebration.

Westbrook’s intensity, as has been the case all season, was extraordinary. He relentlessly penetrated into the paint against a porous Minnesota defense ill-equipped to handle the attack – especially with Adams (22 points on 9-of-12 shooting) and Kanter (20 points on 8-of-10 shooting) finishing.Even the Timberwolves’ timeout begging for mercy couldn’t stop him from hopping around the court, pumping up the crowd and high-fiving a young fan.

The NBA took a leap with this prime-time matchup – that Westbrook would keep the Thunder relevant without Kevin Durant and Tom Thibodeau would fast-track the young Timberwolves’ development. This was Minnesota’s first Christmas game in franchise history, and while emerging stars Karl-Anthony Towns (26 points) and Andrew Wiggins (23 points) scored plenty, the Timberwolves’ defense continued to struggle.

Westbrook, on the other hand, has delivered everything desired of him.

And then some.