Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook shines in LA
Russell Westbrook returned to his hometown Thursday night. Such homecomings haven’t always gone well. It went well this time.
Westbrook had 36 points and six assists, making 13 of 27 shots, as the Thunder beat the Lakers 102-93. And that’s starting to become the norm for Westbrook in LA. He’s starting to have monster games in Los Angeles against both the Lakers and the Clippers.
Not so with James Harden, who famously went scoreless in back-to-back 2010 playoff games in the Staples Center. Harden has blossomed into a star, but he’s still struggling in his hometown. Harden had nine points and four assists against the Lakers on Thursday night but made just three of 11 shots and just one of four foul shots. Harden has had mostly miserable games in LA during his career.
First, Westbrook. He’s played 16 NBA games in his hometown. In three games as a rookie, Westbrook averaged 14 points and 5.3 assists and shot 35 percent from the field.
The next season, Westbrook’s first game in LA was against the Clippers; he made just one of 11 shots, scored two points and had three assists. But in three more regular-season games in LA that season, Westbrook averaged 16.7 points and 9.7 assists; he shot 39.6 percent from the field.
In three playoff games against the Lakers at the Staples Center that season, Westbrook averaged 19 points and 5.7 assists per game; he shot 48.7 percent from the field.
Last season, Westbrook had two huge games against the Lakers in Los Angeles: he made 20 of 43 shots, averaged 29 points and 9.5 assists. But he had two dud games against the Clippers, including a 1-of-12 shooting night.
But in two games in LA this season, Westbrook now has averaged 33.5 points and 5.0 assists; he’s made 26 of 53 shots. So clearly, Westbrook is comfortable playing in his hometown.
Not so with Harden. He’s played 13 NBA games in his hometown and has averaged just 9.1 points a game. He’s had shooting games of 2-of-15, 0-of-3, 0-of-2, 1-of-7, 3-of-11 twice and 2-of-10. Harden has shot below 50 percent in every LA game.
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