Russell Westbrook chose the wrong time to make a fashion statement.
The big ol', Steve Urkel-like set of bifocals he wore into his postgame press conference couldn't have been more out of place. Because the Thunder's often picked apart point guard proved in the biggest game of his life that on the court he has 20/20 vision.
Westbrook was the offensive catalyst for the Thunder's series-clinching 105-90 Game 7 win over Memphis on Sunday. The Thunder is now moving on to face the Dallas Mavericks in its first-ever Western Conference Finals because Westbrook's floor leadership was too much for the Grizzlies to handle.
Westbrook's final line: 14 points with 10 rebounds and 14 assists.
He had one more assist than Memphis mustered as a team.
He had the first triple-double in a Game 7 since Scottie Pippen in 1992.
He had only the fifth triple-double in Game 7 history, joining Jerry West (1969), Larry Bird (1984), James Worthy (1988) and Pippen (1992).
Read that list again. Now feel free to re-evaluate your opinion of Westbrook.
“Russell has improved as quickly as any player that came out of college that did not play point (guard) in college,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He gets picked on a little bit. But he keeps playing. He keeps improving. He keeps getting better. And tonight, he controlled the game.”
Westbrook's 14 assists were spread among five players. Those dishes led to 33 points.
While Kevin Durant's eye-popping 39-point performance in this Game 7 will go down as a defining moment in his career, it was Westbrook who made it happen. Of Durant's 39 points, 21 were assisted by Westbrook.
“My teammates did a great job of putting me in those positions to be successful,” Durant said.
Westbrook also assisted James Harden on six of his 17 points off the bench, fed Serge Ibaka for his only bucket of the game and found Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha for two of their respective four points.
“I tried to give my teammates the easiest shots possible,” Westbrook said. “I think early in the game it is important to get everyone touches, and I think that really worked.”
Westbrook had half of his assists by halftime to help the Thunder open a 42-34 lead. In the third quarter, Westbrook took over with his passing.
When the Grizzlies threatened to string together a similar second-half comeback to Game 6, cutting the lead to 48-44, Westbrook made all the right decisions. He found Ibaka for an 18-foot jumper. He ignited the crowd with an alley-oop to Durant for a dunk. He later found Harden and Durant on the wings for consecutive 3-pointers. Those feeds helped fuel the Thunder to a 17- 7 run to take a 65-51 with 1:28 left in the period.
The Grizzlies never got within single digits. The Thunder went on to lead by as many as 20.
Westbrook was so good distributing, he registered his 10th assist with 2:25 left in the third period. He was so dominant on the boards, he pulled down his 10th rebound with 3:27 left in the third quarter. He was so unselfish, he took only 12 shots and didn't complete his triple-double until sinking a 16-footer with 7:40 left in the game.
“I thought he was great,” said Nick Collison, who complemented Westbrook as the Thunder's defensive savior with his performance on Zach Randolph.
“He was trying to do everything he could to help us win.”