Westbrook Killing It As He Hits Garden Stage

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Delivering world-class performances on a nightly basis, Russell Westbrook brings his act to the world’s most famous arena for a sold-out, one-night-only engagement.

Call him controversial. Call him hot-headed. Call him a ball hog. On any other team without Kevin Durant (or LeBron James) you just might call him MVP.

That’s how good Westbrook, the brash Oklahoma City point guard, has played for the better part of two months and particularly so since the start of February, a span of 14 games in which he’s averaged 27.4 ppg, 6.2 apg, 4.6 rpg and has shot 50.9 percent (136-for-267) overall while averaging 19.1 shots a game.

So break a leg — – and hopefully not an ankle – Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and whoever else New York throws at the 6-foot-3 lightning bolt — when the Thunder and Knicks clash in a marquee matchup at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, TNT).

“Take away the first month of the season, he didn’t shoot the ball well, but other than that he’s been on a nice offensive shooting streak the last 15-20 games,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “But his leadership, his ability to control the game and manage the game is improving every game.”

There might not be two better examples than the Thunder’s last two wins against Los Angeles’ two teams. OKC beat the Clippers in L.A. In the final 2:51 with the game hanging in the balance, the edgy Westbrook scored six of his 10 fourth-quarter points and delivered two of his three assists to take the 108-104 victory. He finished with 29 points on 11-for-20 shooting (55 percent), 10 assists and six rebounds.

“That game was one of his best performances considering who he is playing against [Chris Paul], who we are playing against and on their floor in a crazy environment,” Brooks said. “He just kept doing his job at a very consistent level, just form a point-guard team leadership and managing the players.”

Two nights later, he crushed the Lakers for 37 points on 15-for-29 shooting (51.7 percent), 10 rebounds and five assists. He scored 15 of OKC’s 26 third-quarter points and had 18 in the second half to keep the Thunder ahead as Kobe Bryant rallied the Lakers to within five points with six minutes to go and Durant struggled to just six points in the second half.

Afterward Kobe praised the former UCLA Bruin who was in third grade when Kobe broke in with Westbrook’s hometown Lakers.

“It’s always fun to go up against him,” Kobe said. “Some nights I get the best of him. I’d argue with him that most nights I get the best of him. But tonight he did his thing, he did his thing. He was very tough to control. He’s a fantastic player.”

A few moments later as the Lakers pulled out of town, Kobe tweeted about Westbrook: “He’s got mamba blood runnin thru his veins . You gave it to me tonight lil bro. C u down the road!”

Since Westbrook and Durant have paired their polar personalities in OKC, with the more reclusive Westbrook seemingly thriving on anger and the all-inclusive Durant nurturing ego harmony, the perception of the past was that that the two won’t co-exist for long. The idea was Westbrook can’t submit to Durant, that he gobbles up too many shots that should go to his mega-star scoring champ.

Only no one with the Thunder has ever laid down such parameters.

“He has the ball in his hands a lot and he picks and chooses his spots really well, when to score, when to pass,” Durant said. “He’s done a great job.”

With a size, quickness and athletic advantage over most of his counterparts, Westbrook is a devastating penetrator and has become even threatening to get to the rim as he’s developed his stop-and-pop, high-rising jumper from the free-throw line and elbow. As tremendous an offensive season as Durant is compiling, Westbrook’s 23.6 ppg and 7.8 apg, the highest point-assist combo of his career, can be overshadowed.

But it can’t be overlooked.

The three-time All-Star is well on his way to a third consecutive All-NBA team spot, and is threatening to turn his two previous second-team selections into a first-time first-team nod.

“Nothing new,” Durant said of his partner. “He’s been a leader all year for us, vocal, keeping the game composed, everybody on our team, keeping his cool and controlling the game from both ends of the floor. He’s been great all season.”

19 Comments

  1. TJ says:

    They should put reggie jackson and russell westbrook on the floor at the same time. Do you know the energy how much energy and emotion both of those players bring to the game? Talking about the knockout punch plus Durant and Martin. WOW! OKC for the championship this year.

  2. Jintan says:

    Westbrook may be quite the “oddball” in the court but he’s pretty much a PG Killer. I don’t think Westbrook will lose its “edge” when he loses his athleticism, he seems to be a hard worker that would probably find a way to be really still anyways.

    Durant is the superstar of this team of course, but Westbrook is the “mental core” and as long as he brings his “fire” to the game, OKC will be good.

  3. geeezzzzz12 says:

    He**

  4. Dwade says:

    no match to my D’Wade….he is a big looser… no ring…

    • geeezzzzz12 says:

      Hahaha Riggghhhtttt y’all hating on Westbrook is pure jealously i mean kobe bryant is publicly saying height worked by Westbrook if he gets respect from kobe he is just unstoppable right now

  5. LebronKingOfNba says:

    did just someone kobetard mentioned that kobe is shooting 67% last 20 games? lmfao. smh

  6. W/E says:

    Westbrook is the ultra durable bad mannered version of Derrick Rose, they both cant shoot the ball and their whole game is based on pure athleticism.

  7. aaron b says:

    i feel so blessed getting to be there in person at these games watching two hall of fame carrer unflod before my very with my home town written across there chest. i just hope he does get his first all nba first team seclection he deserves it! thunder up!!

  8. Lebronblows says:

    Irving > Westbrook

  9. Isaaac says:

    good to see something good about russ on here one time. way too many people hate on the kid. fact is, he’s unstoppable right now.

  10. Game Time says:

    It’s hard watching Westbrook out there because I’m more comfortable seeing Durant rise up for a shot than Russell charging into the basket. He really is a phenomenal player, but I think if he could learn to be more of a secondary player that the Thunder would be stronger. Looking at the OKC vs. Laker game I saw 6 times where Durant had his arms up calling for the ball and Westbrook didn’t get it to him. Kevin Martin ended up with it and shot 3-10 (I think) on three pointers. That can’t be what Scott Brooks wants. By not getting Durant more shots in games like this it only kills his player development. They won and that’s what matters, but come playoffs Durant will need to be the main scorer on most nights and it’s Westbrook’s job to help him get a good shot. I hope they can easily go between him being a power house scorer and efficient distributor.

  11. Kamote says:

    two words… Stephon Marbury :)

    • Game Time says:

      Let’s hope Durant isn’t his KG and they end up title-less together.

    • Arun says:

      You are damn right. Westbrook is also gonna end up in China when he is 30 after loosing his speed and quickness..

  12. sirsparhawk says:

    Lol if he had mamba blood running through him he would be shooting at 30% while scoring those 37 ppg. Instead he is a bit more efficient.

    • two says:

      lol kobe is shooting 67% in the last 20 games lol

    • Arun says:

      Westrook should be priviliged that the all time great Kobe is praising him. sirsparhawk – May be you should go look at Kobe’s stats this year…Also, FYI. Westbrook will be a 10ppg when he is 34. LMAO…

    • KC says:

      Aw, people love to hate on Kobe. Kobe is 47% shooting overall this season. That’s not so bad.