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Russell Westbrook sets the pace as Thunder beats Pistons

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Modified: March 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm •  Published: March 11, 2011

Russell Westbrook's split personality is starting to shape the Oklahoma City Thunder's offense. So much that the team's nightly performance looks to be increasingly dependant on which style of play Westbrook carries out of the locker room.

In Friday's 104-94 win over Detroit inside Oklahoma City Arena, we saw the side of Westbrook that gets his teammates involved early, intentionally putting his own offense on hold while setting up everyone around him.

That version generally leads to unselfish play. That version triggers a trickle-down effect that encourages everyone else to join in on the ball movement. That version enables the Thunder to shoot 50 percent from the field, dish out 25 assists and commit only 11 turnovers as it did against the Pistons.

The other version, which sees Westbrook come out firing while apparently forgetting he's a point guard or that he has four teammates on the floor with him as he did Monday at Memphis, isn't pretty. The other version leads to high volume turnovers, low-percentage shots and a series of stagnant or discombobulated offensive sets.

“That's the thing that he's improved on,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He has to pick and choose his spots during the game, when to be aggressive and look for his stuff and when to pass…I thought he had a really good game.”

Westbrook's final line: 13 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, a steal and only three turnovers. After two bad passes, one in the first quarter and one in the third period, Westbrook's final giveaway came on a charge call with 1:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. His patience, poise and passing throughout the remainder of his 33 minutes, 19 seconds set the tone for his teammates.

Friday's box score

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