J.A. Adande of ESPN.com writes Westbrook doesn’t fit with OKC: “If the Thunder do want Westbrook, it’s not a given that he wants to be there. He’s told friends he feels Thunder coach Scott Brooks blames him for losses, while the credit for victories goes to Durant. You also don’t hear Westbrook constantly profess his love of playing in a small market the way Durant does. Culture is a big part of the Thunder program. They value fit over talent. One of the reasons they took James Harden over, say, eventual rookie of the year Tyreke Evans in the 2009 draft was because they thought Harden could tolerate a secondary role.”
Perk called out Chris Webber. Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “Considering that Perkins, more than anything else in his repertoire, is thought of as a superior post defender? That’s a strange, if not inarguable, statement coming from C-Webb. And though we watched NBA TV’s postgame show a time and a half as Wednesday night bled into Thursday morning, we missed the part where Outside the NBA’s James Herbert apparently caught Webber once again criticizing Perkins’ post defense, calling him “overrated.” It seems an odd, forceful bit of analysis from Webber on what is a genuinely well-respected player in Perkins. We always appreciate analysis that goes against the tide, assuming it’s not created just for effect, but to these eyes Webber might be a little off, here.”
Barry Petchesky of Deadpsin on Westbrook-Durant: “Westbrook sees Durant’s five-year extension, and he sees that he’s an RFA next year in a league where good young point guards are never allowed to test the free agency waters. Maybe he dreams about what it would be like to run his own team, in nobody’s shadow. Maybe the Thunder dream about what they could get for him in a trade haul, even though he’s vital to their wildly unbalanced scoring and assist columns. Or maybe nothing will happen, and the Thunder will be a great team who makes a deep playoff run. Doesn’t matter. Even in a shortened season there’s a news hole to fill with real or imagined narrative, and now the dogs have the scent. The Durant/Westbrook dynamic is now the story of OKC’s year, even if it’s a nonstory. Westbrook wants to be a superstar? Let’s see what he does under a superstar’s scrutiny.”
Mike Sherman of the Oklahoman on Westbrook’s game: “That play — that chant — didn’t win the game. Durant took care of that. But it definitely accomplished something. Westbrook was Westbrook after that. He went 3-of-4 shooting in the fourth quarter, was aggressively pressuring Jason Kidd and became the force of nature the Thunder needs him to be. His final line wasn’t anything too special: 16 points on 6 of 15 shooting, four assists and seven turnovers. But it was hard to leave the arena without feeling something had turned for Westbrook.”
We’re sick of it, but here’s the Thunder all trying to completely downplay the “altercation.” Which if you watch this video, it doesn’t look like much of an altercation at all. So I can understand why they would be mad about it.
Darnell Mayberry: “The final 3 1/2 minutes tonight could turn Westbrook’s slow start completely around. He desperately needed something like this to happen for him tonight. Through three quarters, Westbrook was clearly not himself. He wasn’t playing with passion. The fire in his belly was absent. He was differing. And he made tons of mistakes, including passing up opportunities, as he tried too hard to play more under control. Only in the final 3 1/2 did we see the real Westbrook.”
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com gave Westbrook an A for last night: “One day removed from a horrid shooting performance in a near-loss and after a brief altercation with Kevin Durant that subsequently became the biggest story in the league for a day, Russell Westbrook brought the Thunder back. He made all the plays late starting wit a dunk and-one off a steal. He hit big shots when he needed to and grabbed a huge offensive rebound off a Durant miss late. It was a terrific job by a player with a lot of pressure on him, and showed why the Thunder believe he and Durant can be special together. Westbrook isn’t the pure point a lot of people think Durant needs. But in terms of scoring point guards, he’s one of the best in the league. His fearlessness and ability to make things happen in key moments should not be overshadowed by a handful of poor shooting nights for the young player. Westbrook is a legitimate star who plays on the same stage, if not level, as Kevin Durant.”
Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game: “They were there. They took it. Kevin Durant (30 points, 10-16 FG, 11 rebounds, six assists, six turnovers, one steal, two blocks) was just cruel and poised and fantastic enough to take it right back, on a somewhat predictable play that was executed with enough interesting wrinkles to bring about its success. Durant hit a hell of a shot and played a hell of a game, but the Mavericks are starting to look like the Mavericks again, and that in itself is something worth celebrating.”