Russell Westbrook comes up short despite huge game
Just days after manhandling the NBA golden boys from tip to final buzzer, the Oklahoma City Thunder once again found themselves struggling to finish against a lesser team. Their inability to close games has drawn questions as to where they fit in the larger picture of the entire NBA.
Doubts surrounding their chemistry have followed them all season and their consistency issues plagued them throughout the game. OKC started their matchup against the Detroit Pistons in dominating fashion, but squandered a sizeable second half lead, something they’ve done with concerning regularity this season.
The Thunder worked their way to a 15-point midway through the third quarter before the Pistons promptly erased the deficit. Behind star big man Andre Drummond and second unit mainstays Ish Smith and Langston Galloway, the Pistons found a way to come from behind and draw even.
Detroit stole the lead from the Thunder in the second half of the fourth quarter, and once they had it, they never looked back. With the help of some poor play by the Thunder, including 6-20 shooting on their last 20 shots, The Motor City came away with the victory, 99-98.
Russell Westbrook dropped his sixth triple-double of the season, but was strikingly inefficient in doing so. Although the reigning MVP racked up 27 points, 11 boards and 11 assists, he bricked more than enough shots to build a small townhome.
Having left his prints all over the game, his shooting should have been excusable. However, on the final possession with teammate Raymond Felton wide open near the baseline, Westbrook took the game in his hands and fired a three from the logo that fell embarrassingly short.
Following an offseason that saw the fiery point guard join forces with superstars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, his year has gone anything but according to plan. While his All-Star teammates have thrived in their new roles, Westbrook has looked more like a newcomer than any fresh face on the Thunder roster.
Whether it’s an unusually extended adjustment period to an unfamiliar role or annoyingly persistent offseason rust, Westbrook will need to play better for his team to make a run at the NBA’s crown jewel. He wasn’t the NBA’s MVP for no reason, and OKC will need him to start playing like it if they want to win on a consistent basis.