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OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook steps up

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY Modified: March 3, 2009 at 5:37 am •  Published: March 3, 2009
Fresh off his Rookie of the Month-winning February, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook wasted no time in making his mark in March.

Westbrook recorded his first career triple-double to lead the shorthanded Thunder to a stunning 96-87 win over Dallas on Monday night at the Ford Center.

Playing without injured teammates Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, Westbrook scored 17 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 41 minutes, showing the strides he’s made since November.

Westbrook controlled the pace of the game without being in a rush offensively. He moved the ball around and found open teammates. And he helped limit Dallas point guard Jason Kidd to nine points, five rebounds and five assists.

Westbrook finished with a game-high six turnovers, but four of them came in the final period when the Mavs intensified their pressure and rallied back from a 20-point deficit to start the fourth quarter.

"Russell did a good job of making guys better,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "He’s learning how to play a position, and he’s doing a great job. He’s improving month-to-month. I don’t look at Russell game-to-game. I look at him in bigger chunks ... He’s improved every month, and we all see that.”

Westbrook finished February averaging 20.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists, ranking first among rookies in scoring, second in assists and fifth in rebounding. Even he admitted the vast improvement in his play now compared to November.

"I think I’m a lot better,” said Westbrook. "I see the game a lot slower.

"I see the game a lot slower. I'm going to try to continue to get better and help my team win games."
Russell Westbrook


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