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OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley meet again

COMMENTARY— The Thunder point guard faced off against the Rocket who injured his knee in last year’s playoffs. OKC got the last laugh this time, pulling out a 106-98 win.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 11, 2014


photo - Houston's Patrick Beverley (2) claps after fouling Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets at the  Chesapeake Energy Arena  in Oklahoma City, Okla., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Houston's Patrick Beverley (2) claps after fouling Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

They did.

Barely.

What did Westbrook think about the whole thing?

“Nothing,” he said with his best poker face. “Just win the game. That’s what my whole objective is ... win the game.”

Beverley made the focus on that objective even sharper Tuesday night. When the two were back on the court together again in the second quarter, Westbrook was locked in. He drove and dished to Reggie Jackson for an open 3-pointer. He drew a foul on Beverley and got to the free-throw line. He blew by Beverley for an easy layup. He got just enough of a screen to shake Beverley and hit a 3. On and on it went.

Westbrook scored nine consecutive points.

And Beverley would’ve kept taking the brunt of it had Westbrook not helped him pick up his third foul and take an early seat on the bench.

“You guys know I love Russell,” Brooks said, “and this is why I really like him — he doesn’t like the 58 point guards that he plays against. He’s not out there to make friends. He’s not out there to be anybody’s buddy.”

But ...

“He’s about playing the right way,” the Thunder coach said. “He’s about playing a game that we as a coaching staff, as fans, as an organization can be proud of. That’s what he does every single night; he just plays the way it’s supposed to be played.”

A shot at Beverley?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

But it’s pretty clear this Westbrook-Beverley matchup will stay hot as long as the two are in the league. Even though it didn’t provide nearly as many fireworks in the second half — seemed fitting that Westbrook drew a foul on Beverley and hit three ensuing free throws to seal the Thunder victory with a minute and a half left — but the sparks from that matchup ignited other fires. Steven Adams got into it with James Harden. Harden got into it with Brooks. Francisco Garcia got into it with Durant.

Add in lots of staredowns and the occasional f-bomb, not to mention a whopping 42 points from Durant, and it felt like June, not March at The Peake.

Maybe this is the game that gets the Thunder rolling again. Only time will tell on that. But at a minimum, it was a reminder of how tough Westbrook and this Thunder defense can be.

Patrick Beverley started it, but the Thunder definitely finished it.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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