Russell Westbrook’s triple-double drew rave reviews from analysts on both TNT’s and Fox Sports Oklahoma’s Game 7 telecasts Saturday night.
TNT showed a graphic placing Westbrook’s effort with several Hall of Famers who had a triple-double in a Game 7, including Jerry West, Larry Bird, James Worthy and Scottie Pippen and current Celtics guard Rajon Rondo.
“He’s so competitive,” TNT game analyst Steve Kerr said. “He lights the building up. You can’t ever fault the fire and intensity in which he plays.”
After he came from nowhere to swat away a Grizzlies shot, Kerr said, “It seems once a game, Westbrook does something shocking athletically.”
On the postgame show while holding up a copy of the final stat sheet, FSOK studio analyst Nancy Lieberman said if she were coaching, she would not take any other point guard, including Chris Paul or Tony Parker, to lead her team.
“He has the skill-set that no other player in the history of the NBA has had,” Lieberman said. “He’s electric. He plays so hard. He’s a tremendous passer, a willing passer. You’re just not going to muscle him.”
Kerr on point
Working with Marv Albert, Kerr turned in his usual strong comments. It will be a big loss for viewers if he gives up his microphone to take the New York Knicks coaching job.
On Steven Adams’ physical play, which has caused other players to retaliate against him: “The key for him is he initiates, but he never responds. He keeps his composure.”
Later, he said Adams had a great future: “He’s the heir apparent to Kendrick Perkins. He’s going to be the starting center here for a long time.”
On the smart play from Derek Fisher, who drew two fouls from Marc Gasol to end the first half: “Derek Fisher makes a major contribution in a subtle manner.”
He credited fewer turnovers and good ball movement for the Thunder taking over the game in the third quarter: “Patience and ball movement and poise, just taking care of the ball, has given Oklahoma City the groove they needed.”
He noted Durant is more effective when he takes mid-range shots, although KD was 5 of 5 on 3-pointers. “I really like it when Durant makes it his staple, rather than the 3-point shot. The 3-pointer should be the curve ball, the fastball should be the 15- to 18-footer.”
TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley credited Memphis coach Dave Joerger for his adjustments with a quicker, smaller lineup after the suspension to center Zach Randolph: “I give their coach a lot of credit for changing his strategy in a 24- to 48-hour period and playing totally different than they have played the last four or five years. That’s pretty impressive.”
Barkley also called Gasol “the best-passing big man in the league.”
Guest analyst Grant Hill, whom Barkley called Graham, credited Westbrook’s playmaking with eight assists to go with his 13 points. “I like his game, being a facilitator, getting people going. That’s what Oklahoma City needs.”
Davis brings usual energy
In calling his final game of the season, FSOK announcer Brian Davis brought his usual energy and occasional twisted phrases.
After Durant’s 3-pointer gave Thunder a 78-63 lead: “The Thunder is trying to start up the steamroller and put the game away.”
After Westbrook’s offbalance 3-pointer near the end of the shot clock: “When it’s your night, it’s your night.”
On Caron Butler’s layup following a long pass from Westbrook: “The butler in the lane with a feather.”
*Albert credited the noisy crowd in Chesapeake Energy Arena. “It’s a high-decibel, college atmosphere in here.” Kerr added: “This is the only arena where all the fans wear the free T-shirts … There is no vanity at all.”
*Thunder coach Scott Brooks also noted the crowd noise when he addressed his team in a third-quarter timeout. “Keep this crowd into it. They love you not because you’re making shots, you’re getting great effort. Keep the effort. Don’t be the one who gets scored on.”
*Albert noted that Westbrook might be in line for a quadruple-double if he could get a few more turnovers (he finished with seven). However, Albert said he was alerted by the Elias Sports Bureau that no such quadruple-double existed because it was a negative stat.
“Guys, we were kidding,” he said. “It’s a joke.”
*Lieberman complimented Brooks for his new eight-man rotation that includes Butler starting. “He’s really found a nice combination.”
*At halftime of the Clippers-Warriors telecast, Barkley also praised Memphis’ effort: “Congratulations, Oklahoma City Thunder. Man, I take my hat off to the Grizzlies. They competed today.”