By: PJ Guippone
I understand the critiques against Russell Westbrook’s explosive game. He turns the ball over A LOT. He shoots the ball A LOT. He is a hot-head in his own, non-Boogie way. He is kind of a dick to the media. The Thunder aren’t the same team without a second superstar (duh).
There are some things that are just impossible to overlook, though. One of those things is what he did to the Jazz in Oklahoma City last night. I’m not talking about his stat line, which was 43, 11, and 10 (admittedly, also seven turnovers), because of course he did that. He has five 40-point triple doubles on the season, tied for most all time with the Big O and Harden, but it feels more like 6,000. Of course Rusty did that, he does every night.
What I am talking about is what he did in the last two minutes of the game. After leading by double digits for basically the entire game, the Thunder lost the lead and were down three to the Jazz with 2:13 left. Therefore, Russ decided to do what he does best, turn into a somehow controlled supernova with all his celestial energy directed at the basket. Please note: he had 31 points at this point. At 2:05, he hit a pullup. At 1:33, he hit a layup and followed it up with two free throws at 1:10. With 38 seconds left, he hit a three pointer to bring the Oklahoma City Westbrooks to within 1. Then, following a rebound, he turned into his alter ego, “The Human Fast Break,” and hit an and-1 shot in the lane to take a two-point lead. That was the game-winning shot.
So let’s recap. In 2 minutes against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, Russ was 4 of 4 from the field including 1 of 1 from three and 3 of 3 from the line for a total of twelve points. Pair that with no turnovers and you have a pretty good recipe for a clutch-time masterpiece.
Your response might be, “Oh great he did a good, really clutch thing one time and found a way to hold on to the basketball. Yippee, the Thunder still suck and Russ is still a ball hog.” Well I will take this opportunity to let you know that you are WRONG. In clutch time (five minutes left in 4th or OT with a margin of five or less) Russ is second in the NBA behind only fourth quarter Beethoven, Isaiah Thomas, with 175 total points on 43% shooting, 33% from three and 86% from the line. He is really good at basketball, and he has ice in his veins. That is bad news for the opponent in the last 5 minutes of a close game.
Russ is a winner. Winners win. Therefore, don’t bet against Russ.