Thunder-Clippers: How it was Westbrook to the 'Russ-cue' in Game 5 for Oklahoma City

COMMENTARY — With Kevin Durant struggling as much as he ever has, Russell Westbrook delivered an explosive, fearless performance that saved Oklahoma City.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 14, 2014

Kevin Durant grabbed Russell Westbrook around the waist, lifted him off the floor and paraded him around the hardwood.

It was a hug and then some.

And Westbrook deserved every bit of it.

If not for the Thunder point guard, Oklahoma City would’ve lost Tuesday night at The Peake. If not for the most maligned player in the NBA, the Thunder would be facing elimination Thursday night in Los Angeles. If not for Westbrook, well, you know.

Thunder 105, Clippers 104.

Westbrook didn’t have another triple-double, didn’t have quite enough rebounds or assists to add to his amazing triple-double total these playoffs, but it was his scoring that the Thunder needed most. On a night when Durant missed 16 of his 22 shots and Serge Ibaka managed only eight shots and Reggie Jackson managed even fewer with five, Westbrook had to be the scorer. And he filled that role almost as well as anyone could’ve asked.

Thirty-eight points, and none bigger than the last three.

With the Thunder trailing by two points with 11.3 seconds left, Westbrook took an inbounds pass and dribbled out beyond the three-point line. Every Thunder fan inside The Peake — and probably anywhere else on the planet — seemed to gasp.

What was he doing?

Then with Chris Paul guarding him, Westbrook dribbled, squared his shoulders and pulled up for a three. Paul seemed a little surprised, leaping and trying to get a hand in Westbrook’s face. He hit Westbrook’s arm instead.

Foul with 6.4 seconds left.

Three free throws.

“I’m still upset about the shot I missed in L.A. for the game,” Westbrook said in his postgame TNT interview of the potential game-winning three that he clanked at the end of the game Sunday, “so tonight, I just tried to take my time, take a deep breath and knock them down.”

Mission accomplished.

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