For Russell Westbrook, and His Orange Pal, It’s Time to Get Serious

“Whoa!” Westbrook said. “Oh, my bad. My fault. Accident.”

Westbrook, who happens to be an amazing basketball player, is never boring. He can be combative and moody and fussy. He can be funny and insightful and witty. And he can be all those things in a span of 4 minutes 24 seconds, which he was on Tuesday afternoon during his obligatory session with the news media. (Full disclosure: He was mostly combative.)

The Thunder got blown out in Sunday’s series opener, and Westbrook played poorly. He shot 6 of 23 from the field, committed nine turnovers and spent an unpleasant evening in the company of the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley, who draped himself over Westbrook like a bathrobe. Westbrook said he had been watching film to prepare for Game 2. Had he studied Beverley at all?

“I don’t watch the other team,” he said. “I just watch what I’m doing. I never worry about what other guys are doing, or what they’re doing. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve seen it all already.”

But does it give you any added motivation to play against a guy who has been on the league’s all-defensive team?

“Well, my opinion of all-defensive team is different from you guys,” Westbrook said. “You can check and find out and see what criteria goes into all-defensive team. I don’t really know what the criteria is, or what you consider all-defense. He’s a good defender for their team, but I don’t worry about nobody, how they’re defending. I can pretty much do what I want to do.”

Fine, then what is your criteria for the all-defensive team?

“I don’t know,” Westbrook said.

Of course, you do.

“I don’t,” he said. “How you gonna tell me what I know? I don’t have a criteria. I don’t put together the all-defensive team.”

Should your teammate Andre Roberson be in the conversation?

“Yep,” Westbrook said.

For however long the Thunder’s playoff run lasts — and after Sunday’s result, it may not last long — Westbrook will continue to be the center of attention. As if anyone needs reminding, he assembled one of the great regular seasons in the history of the N.B.A. He coped with Kevin Durant’s leaving the Thunder by averaging 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game. He was the first player to average a triple-double in 55 years. He hauled the Thunder to 47 victories. And he is most likely to win the Most Valuable Player Award.

But the Rockets are another challenge altogether. In Game 1, James Harden punished the Thunder’s bigger, slower defenders on pick-and-rolls, scoring 37 points in a 31-point win. The Thunder wanted to take away the 3-point line, so Harden drove for layups. The problem for the Thunder is that if they choose to protect the paint, Harden will gladly shoot over the top of them.

The Rockets have more…

Read the full article at the Original Source..

Back to Top