It says a lot about the mental strength of a player who can recover from a poor shooting night in the following game. It says more about a player who can do it in the same night.
It wasn’t just any poor shooting night, either: prior to his game-tying three-pointer to send the game to overtime, Russell Westbrook was shooting 7-28 from the field.
“When he goes through difficulties, he focuses more,” coach Billy Donovan said, “and I think that’s really unique.”
Sure, 12-35 shooting is, any way you slice it, a horrible shooting line. Russ even started the game shooting 1-8. But one line matters more than any other: Westbrook shot 5-7 in overtime, outscoring the Wizards himself 14-10. The Thunder won against Scotty Brooks and the Wizards on the back of Russell Westbrook yet again.
And, oh yeah, Russ had his fourth straight triple-double, his eighth of the season. He scored 35 points, grabbed 14 boards, and tallied 11 assists. Normal stuff.
“For me, every play matters,” Westbrook said. “You have to see what’s going on in the game, and you can always impact the game in different ways. That’s the type of player I am, trying to find ways to impact the game, whatever is going on.”
Westbrook was ultimately the deciding factor for the Thunder, but his teammates played well enough to keep the Thunder in the game when their big first half lead turned into a seven-point deficit. Victor Oladipo scored 25 points on 10-16 shooting (including 5-9 from deep), adding six rebounds, six assists, and six steals. Enes Kanter continues his string of excellent play off the bench, contributing 14 points in just 15 minutes.
Kanter didn’t have any rebounds, but he might have a solution for that: “I need to start boxing him out,” he joked after the game. “He’s not leaving any of the rebounds for the bigs.”
Former Thunder head coach Scott Brooks returned to Oklahoma City for the first time since he was replaced by Billy Donovan, and he was received warmly as expected:
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 1, 2016
For the Wizards, a potent dose of one of the league’s best backcourts kept them in the game. Bradley Beal–a guard who Sam Presti reportedly try to include in a James Harden package–scored 31 points and grabbed five boards. Point guard John Wall had 15 points, 15 assists, and six rebounds. Markieff Morris also added 19 points and seven boards.
Brooks’ Wizards team is struggling to find consistent production outside of Wall and Beal. They’re struggling to make an impact even at relative full health. Washington is a playoff team on paper, so unless Brooks can turn his team round quickly, he may not last very long as head coach.
The Thunder improve to 12-8, while the Wizards fall to 6-11. Next up for OKC: Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tipoff is at 6 P.M.