Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook entered Sunday night's game averaging four 3-point attempts per game. Problem was, he was making only one of them.
Is that too many 3-point shots for Westbrook to take?
“Unless he starts making some,” coach Scott Brooks deadpanned before OKC faced the Cleveland Cavaliers before a sellout crowd (18,203) at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “It'd be better if he made a few more if he's going to take them.”
Three hours later, Westbrook indeed made a few more and ended up propelling the Thunder to a 106-91 victory over the pesky Cavs.
“I think the main thing is Russell got hot,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said afterward while explaining the loss.
In a span of just 3:07, Westbrook made four straight 3-pointers.
The first came with 1:20 left in the third quarter that gave OKC an eight-point lead.
The second came as the third-quarter buzzer sounded when he banked in a running 40-footer.
Westbrook then buried two more 3-pointers in the first 1:47 of the fourth period to suddenly give OKC a 12-point lead.
“One was probably a lucky shot,” Brooks admitted, “but other than that, they were shots that he can make.”
When Westbrook let go of his buzzer-beater, the Thunder was clinging to a 76-73 advantage.
“That is a good team and they are going to continue to attack,” Westbrook said of the Cavs. “I was trying to stay in attack mode and keep us going and get the crowd involved.”
In Scott's mind, Westbrook shouldn't have even gotten the shot off.
“I thought I had kind of relayed the message to everybody we had a foul to give (in the final two minutes of the quarter), and we needed to take that foul once they caught it and dribbled it up the court,” Scott explained. “(Cleveland defender Daniel) Gibson thought he was going to throw up a bad shot.
“That kind of shifted the momentum. … It's just one of those things where it's a heck of a shot and you have to give them a lot of credit for it.”
Had Westbrook's running one-hander not found the mark, Cleveland was in the middle of a 23-13 surge.