Russell Westbrook took the Thunder faithful on quite the ride Sunday night, a rickety rollercoaster that surely had you jumping for joy one minute and sinking in your seat the next.
Should we have expected anything different?
Before Westbrook lifted Oklahoma City to a 107-103 Game 1 win over Denver, the third-year point guard gave us all a reminder of why he was once the most questioned player in a Thunder uniform.
In the final 61/2 minutes, Westbrook seemed to lose it. All the poise and patience he displayed in the first half had disappeared. That impressive decision-making and at times dogged defense we saw throughout much of the first 42 minutes suddenly died.
Though Kevin Durant was as dialed in as we've ever seen him, scoring or assisting on 22 of 25 Thunder points during a near 12-minute stretch from the third quarter to the middle of the fourth, Westbrook made one of those head-scratching decisions to try to take over. What came next was a series of turnovers and missed shots.
Westbrook hit a 19-foot pull-up jumper that pushed the Thunder's lead to eight. For a time, it went south from there. He threw it away. Then he missed a jumper and a 3-point try on back-to-back trips. The Nuggets closed within 98-97.
After the Nuggets wrestled away the lead and went up 101-100, Westbrook missed another jumper before turning it over once more.
The ride dipped to its lowest point when Westbrook got himself in trouble on the right baseline and had to force up a shot. It rolled around the rim before Kendrick Perkins tapped in what appeared to be a goaltend that put the Thunder up 102-101. Officially, the miss made Westbrook 1-for-5 with two turnovers in the final period.
All the good that Westbrook had done in the first half, his 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting, seemingly came undone in six minutes.
But then we got a reminder of why Westbrook is an All-Star.
With the Thunder's offense stuck in mud down the stretch, struggling to get the ball to the hot hand Durant had by his side, Westbrook stepped up and delivered the dagger.
Tired of trying to force it to Durant, Westbrook took a few dribbles to his right, stopped and pulled up from 15 feet. The ball hit the backboard and got the shooter's roll. It put the Thunder up 104-101 with 22.4 seconds left.
Westbrook had saved the day.
Then he stepped to the line to split a pair of free throws that iced it for the game's final margin with 5.3 seconds remaining.
His final line: a playoff career-high 31 points on 12 of 23 shooting, seven assists, six rebounds and five turnovers.
There was good and bad.
But when the Thunder needed Westbrook's good the most, he was ready, willing and able.