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Russell Westbrook had a statistical performance for the ages in win over Jazz

Dec 1, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook passes inside to a teammate in their NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Oklahoma City

Russell Westbrook is a divisive player among fans, mainly because he sometimes takes on too much of the offensive burden when he has one of the game’s greatest pure scorers in Kevin Durant usually playing right along side him.

There’s no doubting Westbrook’s athleticism and talent, however, and he put up a statistical line that was one for the ages in the Thunder’s win over the Jazz on Friday.

Westbrook finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, and seven steals. The excellent Basketball Reference has a complete database of player game logs that dates back to the 1985-86 season, and Westbrook’s line was unmatched by anyone during that time — a period of 27 years.

If you want to nitpick his 6-of-18 shooting, on a night where Durant was a more efficient 8-of-13, be my guest. But it’s silly, especially on a night where the game was never in doubt for the Thunder, and when Westbrook was busting it all over the court on both sides of the ball to make things happen.

Westbrook will always have his critics, due to his fearless style of play that sometimes gets away from him to the detriment of his team’s best interests. But those occasions are becoming fewer and further between as his career progresses, and an historic performance like this one will only help in continuing to silence his detractors.

  1. zblott - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Is it really just nitpicking if Westbrook’s primary job as the ball-dominant guard is to maximize his team’s offense, yet he consistently shoots more than Durant who is a WAY better shooter in every way from every distance (see also: Westbrook’s bad 6-for-18 shooting on the night) and he had 8 turnovers? Durant was hot and Westbrook wasn’t, yet he still took a handful more shots, and he turned the ball over an absurd amount of times….but I guess he put up a good individual stat line when all aspects of its efficiency are neglected.

    I’m not sure an 8-turnover night in which he shot 33% yet still attempted 5 more shots than the superstar teammate who has won the last 3 scoring titles is what it takes “to silence his detractors.”

    • 00maltliquor - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      You’re absolutly right, no denying that…but why you gotta rain on the parade! C’mon, Westbrook had a monster game, let’s give him his props instead of always nitpicking and picking on him.

      • zblott - Dec 1, 2012 at 3:56 PM

        So fans should avoid facing reality so that they can champion individual statistical performances? That sounds like the status quo already; I’m offering a different perspective that involves how things really are. I guess I need to watch more SportsCenter before I can agree with you.

    • mikedimino - Dec 1, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      Aren’t the Thunder a better team if the opposing defense has to worry about both of them scoring? Sure, Westbrook might take more shots than Durant, but he’s the type of scorer who has to shoot his way into a rhythm, whereas Durant seems to stay hot 24/7. If Westbrook took a complete facilitator’s mentality, then he would never really be a huge threat to score for the defense, and Durant would get double teamed all game.
      As phenomenal as Durant is, he struggles to get open for a shot. Sefalosha and Ibaka can’t be relied on for a huge portion of the offense either, so Westbrook is often left holding the ball when the clock is about expire which leads to a lot of the bad shots. Yes, a point guard needs to learn how to get his players open, but he is still young and still growing as a player.

  2. 00maltliquor - Dec 1, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Take THAT, Skip Bayless!

    • slowclyde86 - Dec 1, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      Dude, seriously? Stop trolling for bayless viewers. Nobody cares. His act is stale, sad and old.

  3. qpoiu1 - Dec 1, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    If I was Sam Presti, I would call the Utah Jazz and offer Westbrook and Perry Jones III for Raja Bell and Al Jefferson, it makes sense for both teams

    OKC would have a more balanced offense, with a great low post scorer as Big Al, and they would be able to put Eric Maynor, who is an efficient player, in the starting lineup. With Durant and Big Al attracting double teams, players like Sefolosha, Bell, Maynor and Martin would get more open looks

    Utah finally gets a scoring threat on the perimeter, so they would also have a more balanced offense, and they get a great player in return for Big Al, instead of losing him for nothing in free agency. Westbrook would finally be the first scoring option on his team

  4. borderline1988 - Dec 1, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Seeing Westbrook play in the Olympics…it turned me from a critic to a supporter. His energy, defense, and ability to make plays is easily worth the occasional bad decision making. He’s the most explosive player in the league, and is impossible to defend.

    Btw, people talking about how Durant should get more touches: Durant is an unbelievable scorer but his one weakness is creating offense with the ball against a set defense. Durant thrives when he gets the ball on the move, or gets the ball the ball when the defense is on the move.

    Westbrook is that guy..he can so easily explode past that first defender, it opens up the court for Durant and everyone else. Believe, Durant would not be shooting as high of a percentage if Westbrook was not on the team.

    That being said, Westbrook does dominate the ball sometimes. But the Thunder did steamroll past the competition to get to the Finals, and he was arguably their best player in the Finals….

    • abasketballthing - Dec 1, 2012 at 9:23 PM

      Westbrook’s is one of the best players in the league, and his play is much more positive than it is negative, but there is no denying his flaws. Westbrook hurts his team by taking bad shots. You’re 100% right about Durant, and the way he benefits from RW, but he should still have more shots than Westbrook. When Wesbtrook draws the defense and shoots with two defenders on him, he’s wasting an opportunity to get Durant, Martin, or someone else a better shot. He should eliminate those bad shots and turn them into opportunities for his teammates. If he does that, Durant will take more shots than him, and the team will be more efficient.

  5. themagicfanguy - Dec 1, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    People who criticize Westbrook have never played basketball. You think Durant would get so many good looks at the basket if Russel didn’t do such a good job of drawing the defense? No, he wouldn’t.
    Does he shoot a little too much sometimes? Yes. He only does so to keep the defense honest, though.
    Stop acting like you know how to play basketball and give the man his credit.
    What does being efficient matter as opposed to winning? Oh yeah… It doesn’t.

  6. badintent - Dec 3, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Can we say max deal to NY Knicks ? Nice. Pay the man, Dolan…. and yes, Isiah can come to practice , one great point guard teaching another.

    “Practice ..practice ?? Who said anything about practice ??” AI

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