Week in Review: A dent in the armor

USATSI

USATSI

Coming into this week, the Thunder were rolling.  The playoffs seemed like a virtual lock.  It was just a matter of getting everyone back healthy.  After steamrolling Indiana, the Thunder had a real opportunity to show Phoenix that their playoff dream was all but over.  Instead, the Thunder got off to a slow start and, despite sending the game to overtime, the Thunder managed only 4 points in OT and lost 117-113.

However, the second game of a road back-to-back against Portland gave Oklahoma City the immediate chance to cleanse the sour taste of the Phoenix loss, and for much of the game the Thunder looked as if it would do exactly that.  But the Thunder offense stalled in the fourth after building a double-digit lead, and the Blazers edged the Thunder 115-112.

The big story from the Portland game was the final few seconds, where Russell Westbrook managed to draw a three-shot foul, missed the first, tried to miss the third, and in the ensuing scrum to foul took a knee to the head from Andre Roberson, fracturing his zygomatic arch, leaving a visible dent in his head. Fortunately, Westbrook is not expected to miss much time (likely back Wednesday), and in his absence, OKC’s new B-team handled the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-101.

dent play

THE GAMES

  • Beat the Indiana Pacers at home, 105-92
  • Lost to the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, 117-113
  • Lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, 115-112
  • Beat the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, 108-101

THE BEST PLAYER

Russell Westbrook.  Russell “I eat triple doubles for breakfast” Westbrook played in three games and notched a triple-double in each.  Westbrook’s per game averages: 33 points, 10.7 assists, 12.7 rebounds, on 38 percent shooting (14 percent from three).  While Westbrook’s efficiency was a little down, recording three-straight triple doubles is pretty special.  Per ESPN Stats and Info, Russ is the first player to do that since LeBron James in March 2009, and the fourth player in the past 20 years (James, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill).

THE BEST PERFORMANCE

Russell Westbrook against the Blazers.  How do you choose the best performance among three triple doubles?  I’m not entirely sure, but statistically, his biggest night came against Portland, so we’ll go with that.  Russ scored 40, grabbed 13 rebounds, handed out 11 assists, and went 12-14 from the free-throw line.  He took a lot of shots, but overall he took smart shots (only one 3-pointer).

One more cool stat from ESPN Stats and Info.  With his performance against the Blazers, Russ recorded his sixth straight game with 20 points and 10 assists.  Only one other active player has done that, Chris Paul, who had a seven-game streak in the 2008-09 season.

Honorable mentions: Mitch McGary’s 20-point, nine-rebound performance against the Blazers; Dion Waiter’s three-spolosion versus the Pacers.

THE BEST PLAY

With Russ out against the Lakers, Scott Brooks turned to the near forgotten Jeremy Lamb to handle back-up point guard duties.  Lamb delivered, with 14 points, three rebounds, and an assist, a block, and a steal in 16 minutes of action. His block of a Wayne Ellington three was a part of the best play of the week.  Not only does Lambo get the block, but gets the rebound, and then takes it to the house getting the hoop and the foul.

best play

Fun fact about Jeremy Lamb, while 14 points in 16 minutes seems really good, did you know he once scored 15 points in just 15 minutes (against the Pelicans on December 2, 2014)?

THE WORST PLAYER

Dion Waiters. Dion “OMG” Waiters has to be one of the more perplexing players in the league.  About 50 percent of the time he looks like a competent basketball player, taking good shots, finding open men, playing solid defense, and getting to the basket.  The other 50 percent of the time is, well, not good.

This sequence is a perfect example of the puzzle that is Dion Waiters.  Coming off a screen he does well to get to the rim but throws up a wild prayer that has no chance of going in.  Somehow, he gets the rebound, steps out beyond the three point line (takes a dribble?!), and then nails it.  Yeah.

dion drive and three

For more evidence that Dion is an odd ball, over the last four games, Dion shot just 33 percent from the floor but somehow shot 38 percent from 3. Meaning, even when Waiters is hitting at a good clip from three, like against the Pacers when he hit 44 percent of his threes, he’ll still finish with a 5-18 night.

THE WORST PERFORMANCE

Dion Waiters against Portland.  In 28 minutes, Waiters scored seven points on 3-12 shooting, with four rebounds and two assists.  What is most frustrating is that half (HALF!) of his 12 shots came inside the restricted area, but he only managed to make one of those 12 shots.  If Dion were making apple pie, the pie would be amazing, except it wouldn’t have any apples.

THE WORST PLAY

worst play

Dion Waiters trifecta people!  Trailing the Suns by four with just over a minute to go in overtime, Waiters catches the ball in the corner and throws the ball into the courtside seats, throwing away a crucial possession.

UP NEXT

  • Against Philadelphia on March 4
  • At Chicago on March 5
  • Against Toronto on March 8

John Napier is on Twitter.  Follow him at @ajohnnapier.

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