Russell Westbrook committed a turnover, then clunked a jumper, and the Oklahoma City Arena crowd grew restless only a couple minutes into Tuesday's game.
Not when the Thunder needed its point guard.
On a night when Oklahoma City's postseason hopes hung in the balance, Westbrook came up big. Those anxious early minutes became a distant memory by the final minutes of this playoff game.
Thunder 111, Grizzlies 102.
Westbrook was superb.
He scored 24 points, dished out six assists and played the type of controlled yet dynamic game that his team needed from him.
What's more, the NBA's most overanalyzed point guard wasn't the only Thunder point guard to have a big night.
Eric Maynor scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
If the Thunder can get this kind of play out of its point guards, it has a chance not only to win this Western Conference semifinal but also to still be playing in June.
No joke. These guys were that good Tuesday night.
After a couple early glitches, Westbrook was as good as he's been in these playoffs. It was fun watching him, not frustrating like it has been at times.
He played like you expect an All-Star to play in a big game.
“Of course he did,” Maynor said. “Russ has been playing good for us all year ... ”
He glanced sideways at yours truly.
“ ... no matter what people say.”
I admit it — I wrote Tuesday that Westbrook hasn't been playing all that well, and I stand by that. Until Tuesday night, he had been suspect in the postseason.
At least one person thought I was too tough on Westbrook.
The Memphis coach talked to the media before the game, and I was part of the group that gathered around him. After he'd finished and I'd walked away, he asked the stragglers if I was the gal who'd written about Westbrook in Tuesday's paper.