Tramel: Russell Westbrook needs to find touch again — quickly, consistently
DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki missed three shots. Russell Westbrook made three shots.
The rest is just details.
Even Kevin Durant's spectacular show, which somehow found its way off the marquee of the Mavericks' 121-112 victory over the Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
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Nowitzki tossed the ball at the basket 39 times. It fell through the net 36 times for Dr. Dirkenstein. Nowitzki made all 24 of his foul shots, drawing whistles in bunches.
Nowitzki scored 48 points, trumping Durant's brilliant 40. But what the 7-foot German Munster really had on Durant was a superior sidekick.
In a game that quickly became a shootout, thanks to baskets by the number and whistles by the score, Nowitzki's running buddy delivered. Durant's did not.
Westbrook made just three of 15 shots, and though he finished with 20 points thanks to repeated trips to the foul line, Westbrook's errant offense kept the Thunder from mounting a serious charge most of the night.
Meanwhile, Dallas' Jason Terry scored 24 points, and for grins, backup point guard J.J. Barea added 21. They combined to make 16 of 28 shots.
“Russell Westbrook will not go 3-for-15 again,” Durant said. “You can quote me on that.”
Westbrook seemed to shoot short all game long. I doubt he was nervous; never has shown that. Maybe it was the specter of Tyson Chandler's long arms waiting. Maybe a season of critics trying to get into his head has finally taken its toll.
Whatever happened, this was not a tough-luck night when the ball wouldn't bounce for Westbrook. This was a night when he, to use Scotty Brooks' word for Durant's Game 6 in Memphis, “stunk.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle admitted as much, saying: “Westbrook had a very subpar game. We did some good things against him, but he just had an off game.”
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