Thunder-Clippers: Russell Westbrook takes Round 2 in the Point Guard Battle Royale

COMMENTARY — On a night when his teammate Kevin Durant was presented the NBA’s MVP and a game after adversary Chris Paul posted a vintage point guard game, Russell Westbrook came through with his third triple-double of this post season.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 8, 2014


photo - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) dunks in front of Los Angeles' Blake Griffin (32) during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 8, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) dunks in front of Los Angeles' Blake Griffin (32) during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 8, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Less than halfway through the first quarter, Paul picked up foul No. 2 and had to go to the bench.

“It’s tough to guard him as it is,” Paul said, “but you get two bad fouls early in the game … it makes it that much tougher.”

It was particularly tough on Paul’s replacement, Darren Collison. He’s even more slight than Paul, and Westbrook continued his physical ways.

He took Collison to the basket time and again. Sometimes, Westbrook got his own shot. Sometimes, he got great shots for his own teammates.

“My job is to find a way to get into the paint,” Westbrook said. “I thought that was the best way to us my height, to use my size.”

By the time Paul came back in the game at the start of the second quarter, Westbrook had already scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished three assists. He was rolling, and once a train like that is barreling down the tracks, it’s hard to stop.

That was one of the biggest problems that the Thunder had with Paul in Game 1. He’s not known as a spectacular outside shooter, but leave him open, and he’ll shoot. He did that a couple times, and when the shots fell, he got rhythm and confidence. After that, even when the Thunder played good defense on him, there was no stopping him.

Same went for Westbrook on Wednesday night.

“Westbrook, he gets criticized a lot, but I don’t know why,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “The dude plays hard.”

Tuesday afternoon, Durant said just about the same thing during his MVP acceptance speech. He gushed about Westbrook, saying that the point guard would “run through a wall for me.”

Westbrook did just that and then some Wednesday night.

If Westbrook can win the point guard battle a few more times like this, the Thunder will be tough to beat. In this series. In any series.

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.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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