Give Russell Westbrook a break

Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook took 30 shots and scored 30 points in Monday's loss at Denver. What should Scott Brooks change Wednesday? Absolutely nothing, writes columnist Berry Tramel.
by Berry Tramel Modified: April 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm •  Published: April 26, 2011

* The first trey came with two seconds left on the shot clock and after Westbrook had passed to Durant, who was guarded by 6-foot-1 Raymond Felton.

Durant surveyed the situation, then thinking a double team would come, passed back to Westbrook. The double team never came. “Maybe I should have been more aggressive,” Durant said. “That's on me.”

* The middle trey was hurried and out of rhythm and should not have been shot, though Westbrook launched with just eight seconds left and the Thunder down three.

* The final trey was a desperation heave after Westbrook took an inbounds pass with 3.5 seconds left and sped upcourt.

So sure, it would be good to get Durant more than 18 shots. And James Harden more than five. But that's on them as much as Westbrook. Harden did a lot of standing around, with and without the ball.

One thing you can say about Westbrook, good or bad, win or lose, he doesn't stand around.

“Russell didn't play well,” Brooks said. “He settled for his jumpshot too many times. I don't look at Russell's game and say the sky is falling. He didn't have a good game. That happens.”

Brooks said he hadn't mentioned the 30 shots to Westbrook.

“Russell plays in attack mode,” Brooks said. “He's an aggressive player. We don't want to take away his aggressiveness to the basket.”

Amen, brother.

Westbrook said he hadn't heard the criticism and it wouldn't bother him if he did.

“I'm learning something every day,” Westbrook said. “Learning how to control a game. Out there, ears open, eyes open.”

Is 30 shots too many, I asked Westbrook?

“I don't know,” Westbrook said. “What do you think?”

Oh, I'd give six of those 30 to Durant; 24 apiece. That would be about right.

“You got it,” Westbrook said with a stoic face. Batmans don't smile.

That's OK. He's young. He's got time to learn.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

Photo Gallery: The many faces of Russell Westbrook
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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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