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. Kyrie Irving with crossover, step-back jumper for Team USA (VIDEO)

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    It’s a great move, one Irving pulls off almost ever game.

  2. Derrick Rose says he’ll play Friday vs. Puerto Rico

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    Derrick Rose, Tom Thibodeau Derrick Rose, Tom Thibodeau

    Patience is the right play here. And patience is never popular with any fan base.

  3. Kentucky’s Calipari calls David Blatt right guy to coach Cavaliers

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    David Blatt David Blatt

    Blatt can coach, but if it takes a season for the Cavaliers to find their identity (as it did with LeBron in Miami) will he get the chance to stick around for it?

  4. Report: Don’t be so sure on Anthony Bennett to Philadelphia rumors

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Anthony Bennett Anthony Bennett

    If you’re now rebuilding in Minnesota, why trade Bennett?

  5. DeMar DeRozan leads Team USA in scoring, could well stick with team (VIDEO)

    Aug 21, 2014, 1:33 AM EDT

    Dominican Republic v United States Getty Images

    He also was a scoring machine at the showcase in Las Vegas.

  6. Coach K: No Team USA cuts before Friday’s game

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    Team USA Practice Session Getty Images

    16 players will practice and be available for Friday’s game against Puerto Rico, but the roster needs to be trimmed to 12 in advance of the FIBA World Cup.

  7. Wednesday And-1 links: Youths who entered Ray Allen’s home charged with trespassing

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability Getty Images

    Including a link to the trailers of the STARZ show LeBron James is producing loosely based on his life

  8. Derrick Rose held out of USA exhibition vs. Dominican Republic, technically ‘coach’s decision’

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:44 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Rose hasn’t practiced since playing 24 minutes in Saturday’s win over Brazil.

  9. Warriors’ Nemanja Nedovic to miss FIBA World Cup

    Aug 20, 2014, 6:19 PM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Nedovic had hoped to play for Serbia, but couldn’t get medical clearance.

  10. Kevin Durant: Stephen Curry ‘is terrible’ in NBA2K

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:07 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Video game Curry doesn’t come close to shooting as well as the real life version.

  11. Report: Suns discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe

    Aug 20, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    If Bledsoe decides to play for the qualifying offer, he’ll almost certainly bolt as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

  12. Nene says playing Anthony Davis is like fighting Dhalsim from Street Fighter

    Aug 20, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    dhalsim_street_fighter

    Strangest comparison ever. And pretty accurate.

  13. Report: Heat trying to add shooting guard, another big but for veteran minimum

    Aug 20, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade AP

    Miami could use the depth, but at this point the pickings are slim.

  14. Report: Sixers may look to trade for Amar’e Stoudemire at this season’s deadline

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:17 AM EDT

    New York Knicks  v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    Move would be purely financial for Philadelphia, but if Stoudemire is contributing at that time, Knicks may pass.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3395)
  2. D. Cousins (2465)
  3. L. James (2350)
  4. P. George (2262)
  5. R. Allen (2148)
  1. S. Marion (2138)
  2. K. Bryant (2096)
  3. A. Davis (2037)
  4. C. Anthony (1872)
  5. R. Rondo (1700)