The Thunder’s season came to an end a little earlier than players and fans alike are used to, losing an elimination game 105-99 against the Houston Rockets.
Although the Thunder held a five point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Rockets snapped off a quick 10-2 lead early in the period, and the Thunder never recovered.
In what was ultimately a microcosm of the entire season, Westbrook did his part in Game 5: he scored 47 points, tallying 11 boards and six assists on the night. None of his teammates scored over 11 points.
Even if Westbrook were frustrated by that fact — and who wouldn’t be? — he’d never let on.
“I consider it a good season. I think from myself to every guy down in that locker room did an amazing job all year long,” Westbrook said. “We can be nothing but proud of them. I’m just happy to have the opportunity to play with all these guys. They do an amazing job of making the game easy for me.”
Clearly gassed in the fourth quarter, Westbrook shot 2-of-11 in the period. Westbrook — one of two players to take 18 three-point attempts in a playoff game — made five attempts.
For the Rockets, James Harden’s 34 points was enough to seal the series. Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley added 22 and 15 points, respectively.
Alex Abrines and Jerami Grant scored 11 points apiece in the elimination game. Taj Gibson and Victor Oladipo were the only other players in double digits with 10 points each.
Blanket statements like the one I’m about to make typically irk me when I hear, but it became too painfully obvious to me as I watched the game last night: the Thunder are gassed. And you’d be too, right?
Kevin Durant left this team out to dry with the way he departed for the Bay. Sam Presti, tasked to cobble together the pieces to make a competitive basketball team (or face the risk of Westbrook bolting), did his job with what little resources he could, turning non-factors Cam Payne and Anthony Morrow into pieces who actually contributed in Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott. Billy Donovan should be lauded for managing minutes in such a way that injuries were few and far between for OKC.
But Westbrook clearly deserves the highest praise for this season. He frustrated me on endless occasions, but that’s part of the Westbrook experience. For every night I pulled my hair out, there were five where my mouth laid agape in amazement, watching Mr. Triple-Double make history. I can safely say that I’ve never quite seen basketball played the way Russell Westbrook played this season.
Last night, we watched the end of one of the greatest individual seasons in NBA history.
And that’s no small thing.