Russell Westbrook, NBA superstar, did his best to drag his Oklahoma City Thunder along with a historic 51-point, 13-assist, 10-rebound performance, but that was still not enough to get a win against the Houston Rockets in this first round playoff series. Down 2-0, the frustrated Westbrook was buried in his phone after the game receiving consolation from friends and family. When a reporter informed him that he scored the most points of any player ever to record a triple double in a playoff game, he responded curtly, “I don’t give a f*** about the line. We lost.” Basketball Hall of Famers Charles Barkley, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and LeBron James are the only players to ever score at least 40 points in a playoff triple double.
Westbrook usually rests at the beginning of the fourth quarter to keep him fresh for the final stretch of the game. However, due to a 12-3 run by Houston at the end of the third quarter, Thunder coach Billy Donovan felt forced to play Westbrook through the entire fourth quarter, which caused his performance to suffer. Westbrook was 4 for 18 from the field, and the Thunder were outscored by seven points in the fourth quarter. Westbrook denied that his fourth quarter disappointment was a symptom of fatigue, simply saying, “We can’t give away leads like that on the road, man.”
This series is pitting the two leading candidates for Most Valuable Player, Westbrook and James Harden. While the voting results will not be announced until June 26, voters have made their decision, and point to this series as the main difference between the two. Supporters of Westbrook will point to his sheer statistical dominance. Meanwhile, supporters of Harden will say that this series proves that slightly lesser statistics are acceptable if you are able to make your team better.