A 27-second spurt midway through the final period was a microcosm of Westbrook's night: After the Jazz narrowed its deficit to 88-83, Westbrook converted two free throws at 7:29, stole the ball at 7:16, turned the ball over at 7:11, stole the ball back at 7:08, all of which led to a Kevin Durant dunk and free throw at 7:02 to instantaneously put OKC back up 93-83.
“That was probably the most inspired basketball play you can come up with as a team,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Westbrook. “Just look at his stat sheet. Unfortunately, he had the eight turnovers, but there were a couple of tough calls, a couple of tough breaks, but that's part of the game.
“I thought Russell was as good as you can be from the point-guard spot.”
Utah is one of the most physical teams in the league, much like the Memphis Grizzlies, who previously had their way with a 107-97 victory in OKC on Nov. 14.
That's why entering the game, Westbrook had committed himself to hitting the boards hard to help out his frontcourt teammates.
“Our bigs were working hard, doing a good job of blocking shots,” Westbrook said of his teammates, who had 14 blocks on the night. “I came into the game making sure I was going to take care of all the loose balls and try to care of anything that was outside the paint. … Come, and be ready to play and I tried to set the tone for my team.”
Westbrook was well-aware of his hiccups, too.
Told how many steals he had, Westbrook immediately chimed in, “Yeah, eight turnovers, too. That's all right, I'd rather have it that way than having a loss.”