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OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook struggles to shake off the rust

Thunder guard is struggling with his shot, but facing the Golden State Warriors on Friday night might be a cure for his slump.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 28, 2013

The last time Russell Westbrook went up against the Golden State Warriors, he enjoyed his best individual night this season.

He scored a season-high 31 points with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals in 36 minutes. He made 13 of 20 shots, the last one coming on a deep 3-pointer from the right wing that put the Thunder up one with 2.3 seconds remaining.

Then Andre Iguodala answered with a game-winning turnaround jumper at the buzzer.

But with the Warriors in town for a rematch Friday night, could the memory of that night help bust Westbrook out of his shooting slump?

There might not currently be a better Band-Aid.

Golden State has dropped four of five and is playing the third of a four-game road trip. The Warriors also have allowed at least 100 points in four straight games, and they could again be without Iguodala, who's missed the past three games due to a strained left hamstring.

The table seems set for Westbrook to snap out of it.

Through 10 games, Westbrook is shooting just 38.8 percent. He's connected on only 29.3 percent of his 3-point tries. Even his free throws aren't dropping at the rate he's accustomed to, as he's shooting 69.7 percent from the foul line.

Wednesday's win against San Antonio stands as Westbrook's low point.

He made just two of 16 shots, missed all five of his 3-pointers and scored a season-low six points.

You'd have to go all the way back to April 16, 2012, to find the last time Westbrook was held to single-digit scoring in a regular-season game in which he played at least 10 minutes. That came in a 15-point road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

But these are the sporadic struggles the Thunder expected out of Westbrook.

While rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee, Westbrook was forced to sit out all basketball activities. Prior to making an earlier-than-expected return on Nov. 3, Westbrook hadn't stepped on a court for a game since April 24.

“It's going to take time,” Westbrook said. “Your legs got to get stronger, your body, all your muscles got to get used to working and getting back going.”

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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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