Westbrook calmly swished all three free throws, gave the Thunder a one-point lead and set up a frantic final seconds that ended with a Clipper turnover and a Thunder victory.
“He’s fierce, and he’s fearless,” Brooks said. “And he’s a winner. That’s who he is. The guy competes for his team every single night.”
That was never more evident than late in the third quarter. The Clippers were getting points from their stars. Paul. Blake Griffin. But they were also getting baskets from Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes. Those guys were hotter than Durant.
But Westbrook just wouldn’t let the Clippers get too far ahead. He got to the free-throw line. Scored in transition. Drove to the basket. Dished on a drive to the basket for an assist. Drove to the basket again. And again.
And when he hit a rough stretch early in the fourth quarter, so did the Thunder. A turnover, a couple missed shots, an ill-advised three, and suddenly, the Clippers lead by 13 points with four minutes left.
Bad Russ reared his ugly head.
But only for a moment. Unlike days gone by, Good Russ quickly returned. He gathered himself and went right back at the Clippers. His drive to the basket with 3:51 left sparked a 17-3 run to end the game.
“Coming into the game, I told myself I was going to stay in attack mode and try to give ourselves a chance to win the game,” Westbrook told TNT in his postgame interview. “That’s what I tried to do.”
Mission accomplished again.
“The guy is a winner,” Brooks repeated.
But it was worth repeating. Because of Westbrook, the Thunder was a winner, too.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.