INDIANAPOLIS — Russell Westbrook picked up another small chunk of NBA knowledge in the Thunder’s 107-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
The lesson on this night: how to perform in crunch time. With Pacers point guards T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack slicing through the Thunder’s defense in the fourth quarter, coach P.J. Carlesimo substituted Westbrook for forward Jeff Green with 4:33 left to play and Indiana nursing a three-point lead. Westbrook provided a more favorable matchup and temporarily helped slow down the small yet speedy guards. But the Thunder’s rookie point guard’s biggest lesson came on the offensive end. After Pacers forward Jeff Foster gave Indiana a 96-95 lead by sinking one of two free throws, Westbrook barreled down the lane and picked up an offensive foul with 2:25 remaining. Ford then found Marquis Daniels for a layup at the other end, and Foster followed by turning a Kevin Durant turnover into a layup to give the Pacers a five-point lead with 1:51 remaining. Westbrook said after the game the minutes down the stretch taught him a valuable lesson in time of possession, when and when not to take shots and when to attack versus setting up a quality possession. "It helps me a lot,” Westbrook said of his minutes down the stretch.