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Oklahoma City Thunder notebook: Russell Westbrook disappointed in his and the team's recent defense

The Thunder’s All-Star point guard was critical of OKC’s defense and, particularly, his individual performance on that end, categorizing it as disappointing.
by Anthony Slater Published: March 27, 2014

Since the All-Star break, the Thunder’s defense has been a well-documented problem.

The boosted numbers — like a 104.7 defensive rating, up from 99.3 before the break, or the 107.1 points per game, up from 98.1 — are hard to hide from.

And after Thursday’s practice, Russell Westbrook didn’t.

The Thunder’s All-Star point guard was critical of OKC’s defense and, particularly, his individual performance on that end, categorizing it as disappointing.

“I gotta step up defensively,” Westbrook said. “That’s what I gotta do for us to win games. No matter how many points I score, rebounds, assists, I gotta defend.”

Particularly, Westbrook said, he has to amp up his ball pressure. In recent games, a lax attitude on that end has led to big games from opposing guards. Jose Calderon torched the Thunder for six 3s on Tuesday, in part, because of Westbrook’s continued insistence on going under screens.

“Letting too many guys off the hook,” Westbrook said. “Letting them feel too comfortable dribbling the ball up the floor, doing what they want. I’m just sitting back, chilling. I gotta set the tone early.”

“It ain’t all on-ball,” he continued. “It’s just me helping, just sitting on defense. I watch film after every game, the whole game at the house, and just watching myself standing around, not helping. I can get a lot more rebounds.”

And Westbrook clearly isn’t the only offender. Without Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, two lynchpins on that end, the other players have struggled to maintain a defensive mindset.

“You gotta have it,” Westbrook said. “If you want to win a championship, you gotta have it. If you don’t, then we gotta find somebody else that do.”

DOG DAYS AFFECTING PLAY

One argument for the Thunder's inconsistent play is that the physical demand of such a long season has produced an expected lull.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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