Russell Westbrook's rationale on a basketball court hasn't always made the most sense.
Shocking, we know.
But even if the outside world has been unable to comprehend much of what goes on in Westbrook's mind, he always has his reasons.
Take his individual matchups, for example.
There was a time when Westbrook admittedly looked at the player across from him and saw an opportunity, a chance to make his mark even if that meant stepping outside of the team concept and turning the game into a one-on-one battle.
“When you're younger, you're trying to find your way and trying to find your swagger in this league,” Westbrook said. “You've got to come out every night and compete, and that's how I thought I could find my way and build an image in this league.”
Westbrook has since mellowed. Though there still are times when Westbrook allows a marquee matchup to bring out the worst in him, Wednesday night's meeting with Washington floor general John Wall isn't expected to be one of them.
The matchup will pit two of the most electrifying point guards in the game against each other but, for Westbrook, it will simply be another opportunity to string together more success over other elite players at his position.
Since the start of the 2010-11 season, the year Westbrook became an All-Star, Westbrook is 18-18 in head-to-head matchups against Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving and Wall. He has a losing record against only Parker (2-6) and Irving (1-2).
With the exception of a few occasions, Westbrook and his marquee matchup generally have canceled each other out. That wasn't the case throughout much of Westbrook's first three seasons, when his supercharged emotions either got the best of him or spurred him to a victory in the showdown.
“You got to play the game,” Westbrook says now. “If the time is right for you to attack, then you do it. But all I'm worried about is if we win. If we win, then whatever matchup that you guys say is the matchup then that's who won it.”
History suggests Westbrook is better off when he sacrifices scoring in matchups against the best of the best. In his 18 wins against the aforementioned point guards since the start of the 2010-11 season, Westbrook has attempted 17.2 shots while averaging 8.3 assists and shooting 48.7 percent. In the 18 losses, Westbrook has attempted 18.8 shots while averaging 6.3 assists and connecting on 42.8 percent of his shots.
Similar results, albeit a sample size of just three games, are seen in Westbrook's outcomes against Wall.
Westbrook is 2-1 against Wall, and in those contests Westbrook has excelled as a scorer and a facilitator, averaging 19.6 points and 10.7 assists.
But Wall has held his own, averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists. Adding to the intrigue this time around, Wall will walk into Chesapeake Energy Arena fresh off a career-high 47 points in a win over Memphis on Monday night.
“It can't be a personal matchup but it has to be a pride matchup. That's how the game works,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “You have games within games. But (Westbrook's) prideful. He wants to do well within that, but it's always about the team. He knows that he can have a big game and we win or he can have a game that he doesn't score a lot and we win.”
Westbrook was asked if keeping Wall from posting a second consecutive 40-point night is part of the pride needed in this matchup. His response was short and sweet.
“Yeah,” he said. “For sure.”
Thunder vs. Wizards
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 447, U-Verse 754/HD 1754)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* This is the second and final meeting between the Thunder and Wizards. Washington won the first game, 101-99, in Washington on Jan. 7.
* Wizards point guard John Wall did not play in the first meeting. He is now healthy and is coming off a career-high 47 points against Memphis on Monday night.
* After starting the season 5-28 while Wall was recovering from an ailing knee, Washington has gone 21-16 with Wall in the lineup.