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OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook's defense on Jason Terry just as big as Kevin Durant's winning shot

After watching Terry light up his team with a 6-of-6 start shooting, Westbrook, at some point, put it in his mind that Terry would get no more.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 29, 2012

Then, in the final 81/2 minutes, Westbrook picked up Terry. But the Mavs had started going to Dirk Nowitzki.

“That's where I think our balance can be a little better,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. “I can do something to get Jet the ball a little more.”

But even when Dallas tried to run its offense through Terry, Westbrook did a fantastic job of denying him the ball. There was no better example than the job Westbrook did with 71/2 minutes remaining.

As Delonte West dribbled out beyond the top of the key, Terry attempted to meet him for a pass to initiate the play. But Westbrook fronted Terry the entire way, preventing him from shaking free and allowing West a clean entry pass. West then had to settle for a second option, a ball screen with Nowitzki that was used to drive and dish to Ian Mahinmi, who missed a layup.

Westbrook shut down the same play near the six-minute mark, this time as Jason Kidd tried to get it to Terry.

“Russell's a talented kid,” Brooks said. “He has the ability to guard multiple guards in this league, not just point guards he can guard (shooting guards). But it takes a lot of energy to do that for the 35 to 40 minutes that (Terry) will play.”

Inside the final five minutes, the Mavs rode Nowitzki, and rightfully so. Nowitzki scored nine straight points in the final 41/2 minutes to push the Mavs' lead to seven with 21/2 minutes remaining.

By then, though, Westbrook had taken Terry out of the game.

Asked on Sunday he didn't get as many touches in Game 1's fourth quarter, the typically affable Terry was dismissive.

“It don't even matter,” Terry said. “I bet I get touches this next fourth quarter.”

Asked what makes him sure, Terry was again short.

“I will. That's all I can tell you,” he said. “I can't tell you other than that. And you know when I say it, it's going to happen.”

Terry was then asked if he expects Westbrook to cover him again in the fourth quarter.

“Whoever they throw at me, it doesn't matter,” Terry said. “We'll have success, and that's what it's going to take for us to win.”