“Everybody knows he can make pullup shots,” Ibaka said. “So I wanted him to try to drive the basketball.”
Durant in recent days also has attempted to drill it home to Westbrook that his preferred pullup jumper isn’t always the best shot. Westbrook has responded by passing on that shot more frequently. Only one of his makes, for instance, came on that type of shot.
But ever since he made 11 of 22 shots at Houston on Dec. 29 — the first time since Dec. 4 that he’s finished at least 50 percent from the field — Westbrook has been on a tear.
In the past four games, Westbrook is averaging 26.3 points on 52.7 percent shooting. He’s made eight of 13 3-pointers (61.5 percent) over that same span.
In the first 28 games, Westbrook averaged 21.2 points on 39.9 percent shooting and connected on just 33.9 percent of his 3-point tries.
“I’ve just been trying to take my time,” Westbrook reluctantly explained after shaking his head at the second question about his offensive surge. “That’s it.”
What makes Westbrook’s rising shooting percentages so significant is it’s the last thing that was missing from his offensive arsenal. Before Friday’s game Westbrook, despite his shooting struggles, was averaging 21.7 points while dishing a career-high 8.7 assists.
Now think about how much more lethal the Thunder can be if Westbrook continues to click.
“Hopefully it is turning the corner,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “I know it’s definitely in the direction that we like it.”
Keep it up and there might not be much anybody can do to slow the Thunder.
“He’s taking good shots and he’s getting everybody involved,” Durant said. “That’s what’s making this car roll.”