Thunder Take Game 7, Westbrook Sensational
Oklahoma City was rocking as the home crowd watched their Thunder defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 7 by the score of 105-90. Kevin Durant scored 39 points, while Russell Westbrook had his first playoff triple-double. Both all-stars picked a good time to have their best games of the postseason. Here is more from espn.com and the AP, followed by more blogging from Scott.
Durant, the NBA scoring champion the past two seasons, followed the lowest-scoring game of his two postseason appearances with one of his best. He heated up in the second quarter after an entertaining exchange with his mother, put the Thunder in control late in the third, then put it away with a pair of two-handed slams in the fourth.
Westbrook was at his all-around best with 14 points, matching his season high with 14 assists and producing extra possessions with 10 rebounds.
Kevin Durant was awesome. He will generate plenty of headlines with his 39 point Game 7 performance. However, I want to focus on Russell Westbrook. I have been critical of him during OKC's playoff run. Too often, he failed to generate any offense outside of himself. He would quickly settle for a jumpshot, or drive into the lane, without creating any offense for the rest of his team.
Ironically, that criticism reached its height when he scored 40 points in a triple overtime Game 4 victory. The reason being, his teammate Kevin Durant, the two-time NBA scoring champion, would go long stretches without even touching the basketball. Westbrook played 51 minutes in that game, and only registered 5 assists. 5! From the point guard!
Westbrook impressived me more in Game 7 than he ever has. To put it simply, he was sensational. Westbrook created for Durant, he created for James Harden, he created for his entire team, and only settled for his own shot when he had too. He matched his season-high of 14 assists There was no let up on the defensive end either. Russell was in the face of the Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo for all 33 minutes he was on the floor. And he did this when everything was on the line. He played the way a "true" point guard of his calibur should play.
It was only one game. If Westbrook goes back into the "score first, pass later" mentality he showed in the majority of OKC's series with Memphis, than the Thunder will struggle with the Mavericks. But if Westbrook plays like he did today, the Thunder could make the Western Conference Finals a fun one to watch.