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Russell Westbrook, Thunder put NBA on notice with win over Rockets

Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to their fifth straight win on Monday. (AP)

The NBA is officially on notice.

Russell Westbrook gave Oklahoma City Thunder fans a highlight-reel package and the Western Conference a wakeup call for Christmas in a 112-107 win over the Houston Rockets.

It’s the fifth straight win for OKC and 11th in 14 games since Dec. 1. All on the heels of an 8-12 start that convinced many to proclaim the Westbrook-Paul George-Carmelo Anthony experiment dead on arrival. Monday’s latest came on a primetime stage against a Rockets team — without Chris Paul, granted — sporting an NBA best 25-7 record.

Much of Monday’s offense for OKC came with the ball in Westbrook’s hands, sometimes following a remarkable athletic play on defense.

Like this unreal above-the-rim steal that resulted in a coast-to-coast bucket, a play that only Westbrook makes:

Or this rebound-and-run-the-court gem for an and-one:

Westbrook finished with 31 points, 11 assists and six rebounds, using a formula that appears to be the key for the Thunder’s revival.

George and Anthony had big nights as well. George had 24 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Anthony logged 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

But this is clearly Westbrook’s team. He ran the offense and had almost twice as many shots (25) as George and Anthony combined (27).

George and Anthony have been alpha dogs their entire careers. As the Thunder continue to evolve, more deference to the reigning MVP seems to be the key to their success. If they can continue to find this kind of chemistry, the Western Conference may have another competitor near the top.

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