Russell Westbrook has been able to do just about anything he wants this season. He averaged a triple-double, broke Oscar Robertson's single-season record for triple-doubles and carried the Thunder to the playoffs despite the loss of Kevin Durant in free agency. Thus far in the playoffs, however, his individual brilliance hasn't translated into wins against the Houston Rockets. "Let's be honest," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Thursday after his team practiced in Oklahoma City. "When Russell has been off the floor for us, there's been a differential." In the Thunder's 115-111 loss in Game 2, the team simply couldn't function without Westbrook on the court. OKC was outscored by 15 when Westbrook was on the bench. By comparison, the Rockets were plus-2 with their MVP candidate, James Harden, on the court or off the court. Of particular importance was a 90-second stretch at the end of the third quarter in which the Rockets went on a 12-3 run to cut OKC's 12-point lead to three with Westbrook on the bench. He rushed back into the game to start the fourth quarter, forgoing the extra two or three minutes of rest he normally takes at the start of the quarter, and played the full 12-minute period. Whether that contributed to Westbrook's 4-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter is hard to say. No player has missed as many shots (14) in one quarter of the playoffs in 20 years. But Donovan says Westbrook has earned the right to play all of the fourth quarter and take all those shots.
Thunder's Donovan has 'enormous' trust in Westbrook
ESPN | Apr 21