Westbrook’s Game 2 one for the books

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: Westbrook steps up in Game 2 as Thunder even series

OKLAHOMA CITY – It took Memphis coach Dave Joerger seven games to finally shake his head and throw up his arms.

“I have no idea why he takes the flack that he takes,” Joerger said. “This man can play.”

This man is Russell Westbrook. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers needed just two games and a third playoff triple-double from the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard to say the same.

“He gets criticized a lot, but I don’t know why,” Rivers said. “The dude plays hard.”

Still, the dude gets piled on, so much so that Kevin Durant felt compelled to address it in his MVP acceptance speech: “A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player…”

Criticism revolves around a Westbrook tendency to go off on volume-shooting binges. The theory goes his poor judgment steals shots from Durant, the more natural scorer who should always finish with more attempts.

Lost in this simplified dissection is that Durant is a four-time scoring champ, and now the MVP in six seasons playing alongside Westbrook. Together they’ve made two Western Conference finals and one NBA Finals. Had Westbrook, 25, not torn the meniscus in his right knee in last year’s postseason, well, who knows?

Westbrook’s full-throttle, yet totally in-control Game 2 performance for a third triple-double in five games thrust him into elite company. Only four other players have produced three or more triple-doubles (but no more than four) in a single postseason going back to 1985: Magic Johnson had four in 1991 and three in each 1986 and 1987; Larry Bird had three in 1986; Rajon Rondo recorded four in 2012 and three in 2009; Jason Kidd had four in 2002; and LeBron James had three last season.

Just a reminder: The Thunder and Clippers are only headed into Game 3 of the second round (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Westbrook’s Game 2 mega-performance of 31 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals is a four-category combination so rare in the postseason that only three other players have managed it: Charles Barkley (32 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals) in 1993; Gary Payton in 2000 (35 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, six steals); and James in 2013 (32 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, three steals).

Going 13-for-22 from the floor (59.1 percent) made Westbrook the first point guard in NBA playoff history to post at least 30 points on 59-percent shooting while also accumulating double-digit rebounds and assists. He’s the first player to do it since Barkley in 1993, and he became only the sixth player since 1985 to accomplish such a stat line, also joining Ralph Sampson (1986), James Worthy (1988), Michael Jordan (1989) and James (2010).

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Westbrook scored his Game 2 points in a variety of ways — pull-up jumpers, post-ups against his smaller counterparts Chris Paul and especially Darren Collison, full-speed penetrations, plus two 3-pointers on four attempts.

“Just taking what the defense gives me,” Westbrook said afterward.

Hard to criticize that.

10 Comments

  1. #0but#1inyourhearts says:

    Westbrook= best PG in league. Top 5 players in league rightnow. One of the most atheletic and entertaining players to ever play the game.

  2. okc2014 says:

    I think that’s mean to say you are waiting for Westbrook to get injured again. That’s not cool. Stop drinking haterade, it makes your face look like a money that just drank a gallon of vinegar! Not a good look at all.

  3. Westbrook has inner power that comes from constantly proving that he can do what others say he can’t. His power grows stronger because his critics want stop; his critics drive his to greatness.

  4. KoolESP says:

    I love how bleacher report after game 1 had an article claiming ‘once and for all’ that chris paul is on a whole nother level than westbrook. Why not, westbrook? Why not, indeed.

  5. MR210 says:

    OKC = Overrated.

    KD is not a leader. He’s now an MVP – congrats – but as long as you have Westbrook on your side – you won’t win anything.
    When OKC did go to the finals – it was cause of James Harden being the third option. Without Harden – OKC doesn’t make it to the finals.

    They need to get rid of Westbrook – sure he’s got a motor like a sports car.
    Eventually, if you push the motor too hard – it will break.
    Waiting for Westbrook to get injured again – then OKC’s playoffs will be over.

  6. Big Al says:

    There’s no doubt that Westbrook is a great player, but what’s often in question is how he incorporates his talent for the good of the team. We usually see him race Durant to 30 points, but in several of those scoring sprees this season, OKC actually loses. He is also guilty of taking too many ill-advised shots during close games, and more often than necessary, they also lose. He needs to stop playing for himself. Miami wouldn’t have been this successful if Wade fought LeBron for the limelight. One has to concede for the Thunder, and it certainly ain’t the MVP.

  7. ?????? says:

    i love that lebron is on every one of those lists that westbrook is joining. but i agree, westbrook has a motor like very few others in the histroy of the league.

  8. dumdumdufus says:

    He ain’t nothin’ special. Why, I got a triple double four times in a row in my college semifinals: 10 missed shots, 10 turnovers, and 10 timeouts. Show me any pro player who has called 10 timeouts in 4 consecutive games. I don’t even think my team was allowed that many, but I took them anyway. Sure, we lost all 4 games, but if we had Westbrook, we would have lost each game twice. Know what I’m saying? Good, ’cause I sure don’t. The fact he’s still in the playoffs proves he’s a bad player, ’cause he’s too stupid to know when to quit. You feelin’ me? I should be point guard for OKC. The other PGs will be too busy laughin’ at my fat belly to notice me running past them for a laydown.

  9. atlantico says:

    Westbrook is one of the five best players in the league.

    • OKC says:

      Lol and some people said we should have traded him and kept Harden. Playoffs Russell>Playoffs Harden.