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Westbrook’s 40 points lead Thunder to blowout Game 4 win over Spurs

May 28, 2014, 12:21 AM EDT

Russell Westbrook, Russell Westbrook,

In the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs demolished the Thunder with precision execution on the offensive end of the floor, and enough defense against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to force them into low-efficiency performances.

Serge Ibaka returned in Game 3, and so did Oklahoma City’s collective swagger. But in Game 4, it was Durant and especially Westbrook who took control, and ensured the Thunder would even the series at two games apiece.

Behind an incredible 40 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals, Westbrook produced a statistical line matched only by Michael Jordan over the past 30 years in leading OKC to a 105-92 victory that wasn’t at all that close.

“Russell’s defensive toughness really set the tone in this game I thought,” said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks afterward. And as monstrous as Westbrook was offensively — playing efficiently and under control, while distributing to his teammates at the same time — his defensive intensity was what really made the biggest difference.

The Thunder have beaten the Spurs seven straight times with Ibaka in the lineup, and while he was fine in this one with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, this game was about Westbrook on both ends of the floor, and Durant picking his spots.

This season’s MVP wasn’t exactly invisible in finishing with 31 points, and did most of his damage in the second quarter where he scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in just nine minutes of action. But Westbrook was everywhere, disrupting the Spurs offense by getting into the passing lanes and then making largely smart decisions offensively.

There’s a “let Westbrook be Westbrook” mantra chanted by his supporters, which essentially means that his frenetic style of play is bound to produce some frustrating sequences, and that you need to accept the good with the bad in order to truly embrace the Thunder guard’s brilliance.

But that’s utter nonsense.

When Westbrook is just playing with speed and without thinking, his shot selection is destructive more than it is helpful. He showed how his energy can be properly utilized in this one, however, and if the Thunder can somehow get these types of performances out of him consistently — not in terms of the raw numbers, but in terms of the defensive effort and the efficiency — they will be very difficult to stop.

San Antonio trailed by as many as 27 points in the third quarter, before the bench was emptied and the reserves were left to clean up the mess. The likes of Boris Diaw, Corey Joseph and Matt Bonner made enough of a run to force the Thunder to play their starters to close things out, but the Spurs were never close enough to warrant putting the starters back in.

That might bode well for Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili heading into Game 5, but the rest will only help so much. San Antonio needs to figure out a way to slow the Thunder down enough to turn around a 21-0 deficit in fast break points that the team faced in this one, while reverting back to the style of play that enabled the Spurs to get out to the 2-0 lead in the series that has now completely vanished.

  1. nfl4days - May 28, 2014 at 12:24 AM

    Kendrick Perkins: 2-10-1
    Roy Hibbert: 0-5-1

    • naterich21 - May 28, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      Perkins 2015 All-Star?

  2. money2long - May 28, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    This means he’s better than Michael Jordan.
    When people want to match lebron’s numbers with mj’s, people start saying lbj’s the best right ?

  3. money2long - May 28, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Does this mean Westbrook is better than Michael Jordan ?

  4. realfootballfan - May 28, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    Like I said Sunday, are we sure it’s not 2012 again?

  5. eugenesaxe1 - May 28, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    Durant/Westbrook both played >40 minutes in a “blowout”.
    Methinks SA will notice and remember that.

    • luizmussa - May 28, 2014 at 7:21 AM

      how old are they?

    • thomasvanek - May 28, 2014 at 7:22 AM

      They are both young. They aren’t like the Spurs major players that you need to limit their time a bit more to keep them from being too tired the next game.

    • willkill4caffeine - May 28, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      You didn’t watch the game, did you? The Thunder did have a monstrous lead, and the final score wasn’t as close as the score would indicate, but San Antonio had it down nearly to single digits in the fourth (I think they got as close as 11 at one point), so that’s why the Thunder starters played as much as they did.

  6. tombstone7 - May 28, 2014 at 1:13 AM

    The NBA wants the Heat vs Thunder Finals….ask the refs!

    • syrinx35 - May 28, 2014 at 1:29 AM

      There were multiple times tonight when Westbrook again showed what a whiner he is when he committed obvious fouls and then was all upset that the refs called him on it.

      • ranfan12 - May 28, 2014 at 1:50 AM

        he can whine all he wants as long as they win. What players don’t think they don’t commit fouls after getting called lol.

  7. midnite2020 - May 28, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    Now where’s all the Westbrook haters? Durant still being held back? My favorite westbrook is holding the thunder back

    • knickshater - May 28, 2014 at 2:09 AM

      If Durant fell down the stairs in his own home, people would find a way to blame Westbrook.

      • willkill4caffeine - May 28, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        Westbrook tied his shoelaces together…that sneaky little guard.

  8. antistratfordian - May 28, 2014 at 1:59 AM

    Westbrook haters need to zip it cause this cat is dropping monster game after monster game – and he’s been the Thunder’s best player in the playoffs. He’s also OKC’s most complete offensive player. I’d say more but I don’t want to start a riot.

    • money2long - May 28, 2014 at 6:28 AM

      Mamba blood.
      That is all.

      • antistratfordian - May 28, 2014 at 6:59 PM

        The next time Kobe Bryant has a triple double in the playoffs would be the first time.

        Westbrook already has three triple doubles in these playoffs alone. Russ is more like a less accurate Mini LeBron.

      • money2long - May 28, 2014 at 11:23 PM

        Haha. Stat nerd.
        Mamba blood is not predicated on stats.

    • fanofthegame79 - May 28, 2014 at 8:11 AM

      I agree. I keep wondering how Durant won the MVP this year when he’s not even the MVP of his team. I would take Westbook over Durant any day – and I’ve been saying that for a couple of seasons now. He’s more dynamic, he plays better defense, he attacks the paint more, I could go on… I think that if KD were on a team like the Timberwolves, we would hear about him as much as we hear about Kevin Love, which is a lot, but he wouldn’t be in the MVP race every year. If Westbrook had his own team (a la Rose in Chicago), he would be the second best player in the league (behind LeBron).

      • patfic5 - May 28, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        No. You wouldn’t. Moron.

      • jolink653 - May 28, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Which is why the Thunder played at the same level, if not better, when Westbrook went down with his injury and Durant was the one carrying the team

      • fanofthegame79 - May 28, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        These players earn their money in the post season…not the regular season. I know that the MVP is a regular season award – which is why Durant earned it – but I’d still take a health Westbrook over Durant for the reasons I said before: he’s more dynamic in every way.

      • bougin89 - May 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        That is really, really stretching it and I’m a Russell fan.

        I’m one of the few people that said and still say Westbrook is better than Harden but to say he’s better than Durant is really, really stretching it.

        I will give you this playoffs though, he’s been as good as Durant maybe slightly better.

      • fanofthegame79 - May 28, 2014 at 8:05 PM

        I’ll put it this way: I think Westbrook has a better career than Durant if he ever gets his own team. Look at what Derrick Rose did with his own team (won the MVP and was touted as being the second coming in Chicago not to mention the title contender), and I think Westbrook is better than Rose.

      • bougin89 - May 29, 2014 at 10:06 AM

        Westbrook has his flaws too. Too many to be considered the second best player in the league.

        He can absolutely take over games like few people can, but he also goes through games where he is very inefficient because of his reckless style.

        He’s incredible to watch, but if you were having a fantasy draft for just the upcoming season Westbrook would never be selected #2 overall. I would think top 10 though.

      • antistratfordian - May 28, 2014 at 7:04 PM

        Well KD was the MVP of his team this year since Westbrook was out for 30 games or so…. or, wait, maybe their MVP was actually Serge Ibaka…. hmmm, that’s something to think about.

        In any case, the MVP of the league was LeBron James. Without question. No one does more. No one is more valuable.

  9. mjacobs45 - May 28, 2014 at 6:14 AM

    According to Dope Feldman, if Westbrook has better stats than Jordan, he too must be better

  10. wilmyers09 - May 28, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    next thing u know westbrook hurts his knee again 😏

  11. ranfan12 - May 28, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    Spurs let joey crawford get into their head.

  12. thenew013 - May 28, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    “But that’s utter nonsense.” This sentence was all alone. I thought that was hilarious.

  13. bougin89 - May 28, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Westbrook is a prime example of a player that you can take the bad with the good…because the good is SO good.

    It’s still baffling to me that people think the Thunder are better off without Westbrook.

  14. loungefly74 - May 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    We have a series, ladies and gents!

  15. vapor54 - May 28, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    best 2 of 3 . Spurs are looking vulnerable, but what is Reggie jackson’s status?

  16. jolink653 - May 28, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Why are they letting Joey Crawford ref this series with the history he has with Tim Duncan? I don’t understand at all why the NBA would put him on this crew for this series

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