The Thunder's Russell Westbrook and Minnesota's Kevin Love were roommates for one season at UCLA. Westbrook was picked No. 4 in the 2008 NBA Draft and Love was selected No. 5 that same year, and each envisioned greatness for the other.
â€œI hate to say I was the one who called it, but I always saw this for Russell,â€ said Love, who had 24 points and 17 rebounds in the Thunder's 117-107 victory Monday night. â€œI was always the guy who kind of wanted to be the first guy there and the last guy to leave, but he always seemed to beat me there and he always seemed to stay longer. He was always the guy getting in the extra work. You could see he was destined to be a great player.â€
Earlier this month, Love became the first NBA player since Moses Malone in 1982 to have 30 points and 30 rebounds in the same game, scoring 31 and grabbing 31 boards against New York. Westbrook insists he wasn't shocked at the hefty numbers.
â€œI knew it was possible for him because he's such a great rebounder,â€ Westbrook said. â€œHe has a knack. He knows where the ball is going to be. I saw it when he first came to school. He works hard, he kept getting better, he got into great shape and it's definitely showing now. He's very unselfish guy. He's always looking for his teammate.â€
Thunder defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha drew the daunting task of guarding Minnesota's Michael Beasley, who came in averaging 31.3 point in his previous six games.
Sefolosha held Beasley to 15 points on 7-for-20 shooting from the field and also forced Beasley into five turnovers. Meanwhile, Sefolosha went 5 for 5 from the field and had his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
â€œThabo was as good as anybody on the floor,â€ Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
TOE THE LINE
The Thunder uncharacteristically struggled from the free-throw line in the first 3 1/2 quarters, but converted its last 11 attempts â€” including 10 straight in the final 43.3 seconds â€” to finish at 80 percent (32 for 40).
The Thunder, which handily leads the league in free-throw percentage (.865), has not shot below 80 percent from the line all season.
The Thunder's Kevin Durant and Beasley were teammates from ages 9-13 in Maryland playing youth ball for the PG Jaguars, who won multiple AAU national titles.
â€œI'm sure their philosophy was to outscore teams and not defend and rebound at that age,â€ Brooks said. â€œI can see Kevin being a shooter at age 9. He was probably 6-(foot)-1 and 100 pounds.â€
Beasley played center and said he was about an inch taller than Durant at the time.
â€œI'd get about 30 rebounds a game and he'd get 30-plus points,â€ Beasley said of Durant. â€œHe always worked on his game, on his handle.â€
Asked if Durant shot from long range at age 9, Beasley smiled said: â€œThis (the NBA) ain't nothing. He's been doing this since Day One.â€
Westbrook was named the Western Conference player of the week, for games played Nov. 15 through Sunday. Amar'e Stoudemire of New York was the player of the week in the Eastern Conference. Westbrook led the Thunder to a 4-0 week, averaging 23.0 points, 7.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and scored 31 points at Boston to help the Thunder defeat the Celtics. â€¦ Durant wore his new shoe model for the first time Monday, the Nike KD3.
â€œI did not know that. Who was the passer?â€ â€“ Brooks, when informed Durant and Beasley were teammates growing up.