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Russell Westbrook Remembers Parker’s 42

by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 24, 2012

Russell Westbrook can't deny it. That 42-point explosion Tony Parker posted on the Thunder back in February still eats at him. "A little bit, yeah," Westbrook admitted. It was February 4, a Saturday night down in San Antone. The Thunder had walked into the AT&T Center having won 13 of its past 15 games. An 18-4 record had Oklahoma City comfortably atop the Western Conference standings. And Parker plowed through it all. The Spurs point guard made 16 of 29 shots and heated up like a slow cooker, scoring six in the first quarter, 10 in the second, 16 in the third and another 10 in the fourth. He made 10 of 12 free throws. He dished out nine assists. He pulled down three rebounds. He came up with two steals. And he didn't have a single turnover in 40 minutes. "It was a bad game," Westbrook said when asked what he remembers about that night. "It was a bad game for our team. We got out sluggish, kind of let them do what they wanted to do, especially Tony Parker." That winter night is now an important one as these two teams prepare to square off in the Western Conference Finals. Westbrook hasn't forgotten what Parker did to him and his teammates. And when the ball is thrown up in Game 1 on Sunday, you can be sure that memory will help fuel Westbrook this time out. Judging just stats, Westbrook seemed to have a solid game that night. He scored 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting, had six rebounds, six assists, two blocked shots, a steal and just three turnovers. But in reality, it was one of Westbrook's worst performances of the season. Westbrook got outworked by Parker and, worse, let the Spurs' jitterbug get under his skin. A scrum for a loose ball involving Parker and Westbrook with four minutes remaining in the second quarter started the snowball. After the two hit the hardwood, Westbrook got up fuming. He lost his cool, and the Thunder quickly lost control of the game. From then on, Westbrook's night was marred by poor defense, forced shots, frequent complaining and costly turnovers. "I definitely can learn from it," Westbrook said. "Like I said, it was a tough game for us and we’ll learn from it." Ironically, since that game Westbrook has played phenomenal ball. He's slowed down. He's played under control. He hasn't forced shots. And he's kept his emotions in check. Now, with Parker again in his sights, Westbrook will have to harness those lingering feelings about that February night and ensure that those emotions are turned into positive energy instead of negative energy. "We definitely need Russell to play with the passion that he does," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "You can't get frustrated if a guy scores on you. You have to stay with what we do. But you have to have that passion." -DM-

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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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