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Russell Westbrook might be the MVP, but he still isn’t the defender his unreal blend of physical gifts and maniacal intensity suggests. Case in point: E’Twaun Moore’s game-winning jumper in the Chicago Bulls’ 108-105 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There’s no telling whether or not Tom Thibodeau played on Westbrook’s penchant for gambling and ball-watching while diagramming the game’s deciding sequence, but it also doesn’t matter. Turning your back to the man you’re guarding is a cardinal sin in basketball, and Russ did exactly that as Pau Gasol caught the ball on the near block. Worse is that he didn’t aggressively commit to a double-team, either – Westbrook was caught in no-man’s land between not making Gasol’s pass difficult and not getting a great contest on Moore’s release.
The result was the Chicago reserve’s go-ahead trey. Moore was brilliant all game long, scoring 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting off the bench to supplement 26 points from rookie Nikola Mirotic and 21 points and 12 boards by Gasol.
Of course, it’s unfair to put blame for Oklahoma City’s loss at the feet of Westbrook alone. Basketball games aren’t won and lost on a single play, and Westbrook continued his historic dominance with a crazy line of 43 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
The Bulls regain sole possession of second-place in the Eastern Conference, while the Thunder fall to just a half game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth and final playoff spot out West.
[Streamable via @H4plo_]