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Thunder Summer League Notebook: Westbrook's highlight reel

Oklahoman Modified: July 9, 2009 at 4:47 am •  Published: July 9, 2009
Westbrook’s highlight reel dunk
Russell Westbrook’s smile was blinding as he broke down the highlight of Oklahoma City’s 94-82 win over the Boston Celtics in Day 3 of the Orlando Pro Summer League.

It was the middle of the second quarter, Westbrook was already loose thanks to a handful of steals and drives to the bucket, and the game was already heavy on breakdowns in transition. Boston Celtics third-year guard Gabe Pruitt, trying to break into Doc Rivers’ rotation behind Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Eddie House, moved over in front of Westbrook and tried to stop his forward momentum.

That’s where things got hazy. Westbrook lost Pruitt with a move so quick that it was actually difficult to decipher how he managed to get so wide open. The end result wound up being a nasty, uncontested reverse dunk that drew a reaction from the mainly reserved contingent of roughly 400 team personnel and media covering the event.

"It was a hesitation dribble,” Westbrook said. "I thought about going to the crossover, but he sprung up in front of me and I had little time to think, so I just came up with a hesi, saw he’d gone the other way and went right to the rim.”

Westbrook has been no stranger to eye-opening play through the first three games, consistently crashing the boards for follow-up dunks or getting to the rim whenever he wants. But that play against Pruitt stands out not only because of the devastation factor but also because for the first time at the event, he was matched up against a legitimate NBA guard with more than a few games experience.

Westbrook has made the RDV Sportsplex his playground two years running, following up his eye-opening debut as a rookie with an even stronger effort this time around. Through three games, he’s reached the free-throw line 31 times, is shooting 50 percent from the field despite an 0-for-6 showing from 3-point range, and has averaged 7.3 assists.

"Russell has enough talent where he can score 40 points in a Summer League game but he wants to get better at that (point guard) position,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "He improved last season every month playing the point, and I think he’s done a terrific job playing the Summer League.”

Given how choppy the level of play is at this event, his 4.3 turnovers per game isn’t as bad as it sounds, but there’s no question his decision-making and long-range jumper are both works in progress.


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