Thunder insider: This night, Russell Westbrook was the main man

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: March 27, 2011 at 11:43 pm •  Published: March 27, 2011
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Whose team is this anyway?

We could have sworn it was Kevin Durant's.

Lately, though, Russell Westbrook has been the man with the plan for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

He was again in Sunday's playoff-clinching 99-90 win over Portland inside Oklahoma City Arena.

While Durant, the franchise player, the scoring champ, the First-Team All-NBA selection and the two-time All-Star, was busy going 0-for-8 in the second half, Westbrook, the third-year point guard, snatched the reins and steamrolled the Blazers with one big play after another.

Westbrook scored 14 of the Thunder's 21 fourth-quarter points against the Blazers, canning five of seven shots in the decisive period en route to his team-high 28-point night. When the Thunder's offense was stuck in mud at the start of the period, it was Westbrook who willed it out. Oklahoma City went 0-for-6 from the field in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter. Four of those misses were from 3-point range, as the Blazers shut off driving lanes to the paint. The Thunder also turned it over twice.

But then Westbrook came alive.

He hit an 11-foot, pull-up jumper to give the Thunder an 81-79 lead. Two minutes later, Westbrook drilled a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 87-82. He then drilled another 3 to push the margin to 90-82.

“Not quite by design, but they were switching (on every screen) and Marcus Camby was guarding him,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “They were big shots. I'm not going to sit up here and say they were great shots, but they were big shots.”

Westbrook closed the game by corralling a loose ball after a Serge Ibaka block on Blazers point guard Andre Miller before racing the other way for an uncontested layup. It put the Thunder ahead 94-88 with 52.9 seconds to play. And on the game's most critical possession, Westbrook iced the win with his third 3-pointer, an unexpected dagger from a career 26.9-percent 3-point shooter that put OKC up 97-90 with 21.9 seconds remaining.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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