Russell Westbrook’s aggression is often seen as a good and bad thing. On Tuesday evening in front of a once again sold out Chesapeake Energy Arena, that aggression brought home a victory to a team still finding their way throughout this wild season.
Westbrook’s 1-on-4 break in the final seconds, drawing contact and making the shot, was the epitome of Westbrook’s season and career. It was a potentially MVP defining moment that saw his team carried on his back and he led them to the promise land of victory.
“We have a player in Russell that has great internal belief in himself, great internal belief in his teammates and he’s alwayas playing with a level of optimism, a level of enthusiasm and with a never-die attitude all the time. Regardless of what’s happened on the previous play, he can move on to the next play,” Billy Donovan said.
That’s what Westbrook does he wins, despite the naysayers and he does it with a smile. He loves the challenged.
“I just go out and compete,” Westbrook said. “My job is to help my team win and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Do it is right.
“I was about to call timeout,” Donovan said. “I saw it was a broken floor situation for him and I wanted to give him an opportunity to create, do what he does and obviously, it was a great and-one and finish.”
Westbroko’s attack of the floor saw the Thunder take the lead for good. Westbrook scream in exiliaration as the Thunder had blown a lead battled back.
His 14 points in the fourth quarter only added to the insane amount energy he oozes during crunch time.
“I just try to put myself in a position of, ‘Don’t panic, you’ve been there before,’” Westbrook said.
Only Isaiah Thomas of Boston has scored more in the fourth quarter. Westbrook heroics have seen the Thunder have the third best record when leading after three quarters. They have the most fourth quarter comebacks in the association.
“I haven’t been surprised at all. I’m never surprised at anything he does,” Donovan said. “The first thing is, Russell is always going to do what’s best for the team. And probably in years past, that wasn’t necessarily his job or responsibility. Going forward now with that responsibility now being on his shoulders, of whether or not he should shoot it or pass it or make decisions with the ball in his hands, I had no doubt he would be more than capable of handling it because of his mentality and mindset.”
Despite not passing a lot in the final minutes, Westbrook’s sun scorching ability to take over games is an afterthought in the locker room. No one is judging him for his shot attempts or his missed buckets. No one is gauging his turnovers on his play.
“The thing I really appreciated and respected about him, you’re coming into these close games, through 82 games and playoffs games, coming down to the final minute or 10 seconds, never once did he say, ‘Hey, give me the ball, I want it.’ Never. He always does what’s best for the team,” Donovan said.
This won’t end. Westbrook’s closing potential was always masked by the ability Kevin Durant possessed. It’s been unleased unto the world and nothing we can do will stop it.