Skip to content

Kevin Durant opens game playing like MVP, Westbrook takes over from there, Thunder even series

May 8, 2014, 2:12 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two Getty Images

That is why you want Russell Westbrook on your team.

The “good Westbrook” and “bad Westbrook” are different sides of the same coin — he’s always aggressive, attacking, putting pressure on defense and when that works, when his shots is falling and the defense is scrambling, he can take a team down.

That’s sort of what happened Wednesday night.

Kevin Durant started out the game riding the high of winning the MVP award and put up 17 first quarter points, he finished with 32. The Clippers climbed back but it was Westbrook who led the charge for the Thunder — he finished with a triple double of 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Westbrook led a more balanced attack (Thabo Sefalosha had 12 in the third quarter) as Oklahoma City pulled away in the second half, led by as many as 20 and went on to win 112-101.

OKC’s win evens the series at 1-1 heading back to Los Angeles for Game 3 Friday.

That was Westbrook’s third triple-double of the playoffs. When he plays like this he may pick up a technical (he did), he may play out of control for a stretch (he did), but the good of his pressure and attacks outweighs all of it.

The Thunder offense — with two of the top 10 scorers in the game — is going to get points every night. They did in Game 1. That’s not the issue. Where they got burned in Game 1 was on defense, with Chris Paul knocking down threes and getting into the lane.

In Game 2 the Thunder defended the paint much better, mostly by doing a better job containing the ball handler on the pick-and-roll — the Clippers had 29 shots in the paint and 54 outside it. Westbrook was aggressive on defense — he jumped the passing lane for a steal on the game’s first play — and he was relentlessly chasing Chris Paul over picks and getting help to shut off the easy baskets all game. With that pressure Chris Paul shot 6-of-13, Blake Griffin 5-of-13.

Meanwhile role players stepped up for the Warriors. Serge Ibaka had 14 points on 10 shots, Sefalosha had 14 on nine shots.

Part of it was just better spacing in the Thunder offense — they didn’t bring an extra defender to Westbrook, which let him read the floor better. When former teammate Darren Collison was on him, Westbrook backed him down and scored. When help came he found the open man, often for easy looks. Check out Westbrook’s shot chart on the night.

source:

Now it falls to Doc Rivers to make the adjustments in this series. He has the advantages of going home and having more depth than Scott Brooks to work with — Rivers has more options available. He can change and create more matchups that he likes.

But when they play like this, Durant and Westbrook trump all.

Latest Posts
  1. Arron Afflalo expected to play for Blazers in Game 3 vs. Grizzlies

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Portland, down 0-2 to Memphis, needs all the help it can get.

  2. NBA, 20 teams launch apps for Apple Watch

    Apr 24, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    celtics-cavs

    NBA continues its technological push.

  3. PBT Extra: Great playoff series to come in later rounds

    Apr 24, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers

    Looking past the first round to some of the more exciting later matchups to come.

  4. Lakers to send Byron Scott to NBA Draft lottery

    Apr 24, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    He’s got to coach whoever they draft anyway, why not?

  5. Report: Thunder considering Ettore Messina for coach

    Apr 24, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Two Getty Images

    Spurs assistant coach achieved incredible success in Europe

  6. Gregg Popovich’s main adjustment: Hope his guys just shoot better

    Apr 24, 2015, 1:07 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Two Getty Images

    Despite the chess match going on, guys still have to just hit their looks.

  7. Why can’t the Pelicans foul in a timely manner?

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    Monty Williams Monty Williams

    And I’m not just talking about allowing Stephen Curry’s game-tying 3-pointer

  8. Probable top-10 pick Mario Hezonja declares for NBA draft

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT

    Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul v FC Barcelona - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 Getty Images

    Is his scoring, size and athleticism worth the trouble? It won’t take long for an NBA team to say yes

  9. Derrick Rose scorches Bucks for 34 points (video)

    Apr 24, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks-Game Three Getty Images

    Bulls point guard looks good – very good

Featured video

Injuries not why Scott Brooks lost his job
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Parsons (4428)
  2. D. Lee (3932)
  3. K. Durant (3879)
  4. D. Rose (3704)
  5. R. Rondo (3616)
  1. A. Afflalo (3603)
  2. T. Splitter (3571)
  3. P. George (3529)
  4. D. Harris (3527)
  5. K. Bryant (3497)