With the Western Conference Semifinal between Oklahoma City and the Clippers now tied 2-2 after the Thunder’s shocking collapse yesterday, there are a few numbers that stick out. Fifteen… as in the lead the visiting Thunder gave up in the final half of the final quarter. Eighteen… as in the 18 points scored off the bench by Darren Collison in Game 4, including the game’s final four. 45-43… as in the game’s rebounding totals, the first time all postseason that OKC has been outrebounded. Or how about six? That’s the number of turnovers Chris Paul has had in this series. Six! And CP3 has 47 assists.
As good as Paul has been, Russell Westbrook is conducting his own master study. In the fourth quarter of Game 4, he repeatedly broke down L.A.’s defense, scoring in the lane or dishing off to open teammates, doing all he could to match L.A.’s 38-point quarter (27 points, six rebounds and eight assists). Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy gushed about his vision, about his competitiveness, about his speed. He got his shot whenever he wanted. He got others shots whenever he wanted. And he’s been so good that before the game even started, Magic Johnson paid the ultimate compliment.
“Russell Westbrook is playing the point guard position the way it’s supposed to be played.” – Magic Johnson
— NBA (@NBA) May 11, 2014
OKC lost for a variety of reasons, and you can certainly argue they lost faith in the system in the fourth quarter and resorted–as they’re known to do–to too much one-on-one play between Russ and Kevin Durant. But it’s hard to criticize Westbrook too heavily when he’s averaging 26.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game in the playoffs. Over his last five games, those numbers are even better: 27.4 points, 7.6 boards, 10.2 dimes and 1.6 steals on 56/50/86 shooting splits.
If Westbrook’s desperation three-pointer doesn’t spin off the rim at the Game 4 buzzer, who knows how far Magic Johnson’s praise goes? Long considered one of the NBA’s best guards, Westbrook’s never been better than he is right now.
Is Westbrook or CP3 the best point guard in the NBA?
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