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Video: Russell Westbrook with a crucial mistaken foul off jump-ball

Jun 20, 2012, 1:51 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Four Getty Images

43 points. Seven rebounds. Five assists. Russell Westbrook was pure and complete brilliance for 46 minutes.

And then he made the biggest mistake of his career.

Westbrook played the best game of his professional career, in a game where the Thunder needed each and every point, rebound, assist and play to hang with Miami after the Heat survived the Thunder’s hot start. Westbrook was fearless, relentless, and deliberate. He got to the rim, he got the mid-range jumper going, he helped his team respond to every huge shot from Miami.

And then, right when it was right there for him to change the story, quiet the critics, this happened:

In no way should this loss be put on Westbrook’s shoulders. They would have been buried beneath the Heat’s offense without Westbrook. It was a mistake, one of several the Thunder made, but just one. James Harden‘s inability to convert anything resembling a major play was worse. Derek Fisher‘s layup attempt that was blocked, leading to a Lebron James conversion at the other end was worse. Serge Ibaka‘s rotation defense was worse. They were there, with a chance to win, because of Westbrook. It drifted past because of Westbrook, and because Scott Brooks was unable to prepare the team to be ready for how the clock functions in that scenario.

That’s how things break in a Finals this close.

Call out the defense, call out the coaching, praise the Heat.

But don’t bring this on Westbrook’s shoulders. They carried too much in Game 4.

  1. canehouse - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    I was catatonic with shock and joy when he did that… wtf was he not thinking about… unreal break for us… LET’S GO HEAT!!!!

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the refs called a foul anyway on that possession.

  2. addictedzone - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    Inexperienced teams don’t talk in those situations. They’re in panic mode.

    Experienced teams drill the situation into each other so those mistakes don’t happen.

  3. divan22 - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    Russell “The Idiot” Westbrook.

    Catchy, no?

    • progress2011 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:16 AM

      He made a mistake on one crucial play. BUT the only reason OKC was in the game, was because the 11 points prior, came off his individual effort.

      • divan22 - Jun 20, 2012 at 5:37 AM

        Were you all defending Chris Webber after his timeout gaffe too?

        I didn’t say Westbrook didn’t play great. He obviously did.

        I said he’s an idiot. Because his idiocy cost OKC their last good chance at tying the game late.

        It’s one thing to lose a game late because you took a shot and missed it. Or because the other team took a shot and made it.
        Or even because you tried to make a play and accidentally turned the ball over.

        But to lose a game late in part because you DIDN’T KNOW THE RULES regarding the shot-clock situation after a jump-ball? Inexcusable. Totally inexcusable.

        Learn the rules of the game you’re paid millions to play. Know the rules inside and out so that you don’t HURT YOUR TEAM by being ignorant about the rules in key moments.

        Is that really too much to ask?

        That’s two games now in which OKC’s final potential opportunity to tie the game was foiled by their own sheer stupidity: Harden’s foul on LeBron 40 feet from the basket in Game 3, and now this.

  4. funktron2x - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    Catchy? Maybe like catching the clap. Get real, the game was not lost there, and Westbrook was the only Thunder player who wanted it more than the Heat.

  5. eaglesandravens - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:54 AM

    If anyone actually believes that Westbrook lost the game for the thunder, their knowledge of basketball needs to be questioned immediately. He was carrying the team in the 4th while Durant and Harden disappeared. Hell there was a point where he actually scored 11 straight points in 3 minutes of the 4th.

  6. shockexchange - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    Two things: Westbrook had a heckuva game. His jumpshot from midrange was devastating and set up drives to the basket. However, people forget that Miami is a very small team. They start a 6’8″ center. If they had a 7 footer back there, like Pau or Bynum, 6 or 7 of Westbrook’s finishes at the rim would have been erased. Secondly, the story of the jumpball was how badly Battier outhustled Ibaka. Ibaka never moved, while Battier anticipated the tip and kept the play alive for Chalmers. Ironically, it was prior to game 4 that Ibaka criticized Lebron’s defense. Back in the day, we used to say “Either put up or shut up.” From now on, Ibaka needs to be quiet ( ).

    • bougin89 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      Two things:

      1) to say IF the heat had a 7 footer like Pau or Bynum is ridiculous. I’m sure if the Thunder had Dwight Howard instead of Perkins they would be doing better in the series.

      2) Ibaka definitely shouldn’t have said anything about Lebron’s defense especially the way he has played this series. He has not been the defensive and rebounding force they need, that’s for sure.

  7. blakspartan - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    If Westbrook is the leading scorer then okc will lose, individual efforts doesn’t cut it in the nba playoffs, not once did he even try to find Durant to get him going

  8. fanz928 - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:12 AM

    Well without him okc would not even be close with the heats offense and there was miscommunication

  9. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    That play was Josh Howard-ian, circa 2006. To win a championship, weird things have to go your way. That was one of those times.

    That being said…..Hats off to Russelll Westbrook. He is an incredible player. He’s almost too good because Durant is probably even more incredible. Very tough to manage that dynamic.

    Imagine a Westbrook/Rondo trade. OKC gets a PG who gets everyone else easy scores and scores a little himself, and BOS would get the stud they need with PP and KG scoring just enough to supplement his greatness. Shhhhhh, don’t tell Presti and Ainge about this.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:58 AM

      Now you’re playing GM. Don’t quit your day job.

    • bougin89 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      1972…I think you have a great point. I think Westbrook is an incredible player but with so many other options I do think the Thunder need more of a traditional PG, I think Westbrook would benefit from playing with a pass first PG. With that being said, I think the Thunder should acquire a pass first point guard without giving up Westbrook.

  10. truthhurtstoo - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:45 AM

    What excuse is there for Harden and Durant? Chokers… the bright lights are too much for them? No heart?

    There will be plenty of time to think on this…. better luck next year. BTW- get a coach that has a clue.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:57 AM

      Wasn’t it you after the Heat went down 3-2 to Boston & down 1-0 in this series that wanted Spoelstra fired?

      • truthhurtstoo - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:42 AM

        nope, you must be talking about mr. wrong

    • bougin89 - Jun 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      truthhurtstoo…How do you explain Durant has choked? He played amazing in the 4th quarters of games 1 & 2. He definitely struggled in the 4th in game 3 and in game 4 Westbrook was taking over, he had a historically good game. Durant has played very well this series. Harden is another issue, he has definitely struggled. He was dreadful in game 1 and couldn’t buy a bucket last night. Plus it looks like he can’t even complete passes.

      • duane888 - Jun 20, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        I’ll tell you why Harden struggles. He normally comes off the bench and scores points against the other teams second string players. But in this series, he’s facing D Wade on him. No more easy matchups for him.
        So the question is, is he as good as we all think he is?!?!

      • bougin89 - Jun 20, 2012 at 4:02 PM

        Duane888…Getting good looks isn’t the issue with Harden its he’s missing all the open ones he gets. Harden doesn’t always play against 2nd string players, thats nonsense.

  11. cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    How about the classless Heat fans throwing things at Westbrook’s father in the stands? You never mention that Kurt the Heat fan. When an idiot in Boston poured a beer over LeBron you couldn’t wait to write about it.

  12. trybe29dr - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    Lost in all this is the fact mario chalmers scored 25 points a game. Thats as much as any reason as to why miami won…

    and people stop blaming the refs…okc has shurnk up the last 2 games in the closing minutes and ever since his 17 point first half in game 2 james harden has disappeared…

  13. isujames - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    @Divan You do realize if it wasn’t for WESTBROOK OKC wouldn’t have been in this game nor that position right dumba$$??????

    • divan22 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      First of all, don’t embarrass yourself. My pinkie knows this sport better than you do.

      Yeah, I do realize that Westbrook was outstanding until the end of the game. So does anybody with half a brain (like yourself) who watched the game. And I never once said this loss falls squarely on his shoulders.

      But he wasn’t fluent on the RULES OF THE SPORT that he’s paid MILLIONS to play, and it cost his team their final chance at victory.

      Read that sentence again.

      It’s like failing a standardized test because you didn’t fill in the bubble with a #2 pencil.

  14. zblott - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    In much the opposite way that Pau Gasol’s post-season performance is just about a direct indicator of his team’s success, Westbrook’s scoring exploits don’t have the best effect on his team.

    OKC post-season record when RW scores 30 or more: 3-4
    OKC post-season record when RW scores 15 or less: 7-1

    • duane888 - Jun 20, 2012 at 3:07 PM

      Good observation. The less points you score as a PG and the more you distribute the ball and get your teammates involved gives your team a better chance to win more consistently.

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