Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City goes up for a shot during Wednesday’s game against the Clippers at Oklahoma City/AP photo by Sue Ogrocki
Russell Westbrook was one of the goats on March 2 when his Oklahoma City Thunder team led the L.A. Clippers by 17 points entering the fourth quarter of their game at Staples Center, before the Clippers came back and won by five (103-98).
Westbrook shot 0 of 6 in that final quarter, but he more than made up for that by coming through with a heck of a triple-double in OKC’s 120-108 victory over the Clippers on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Westbrook had 25 points, 20 assists and 11 rebounds to become the first player since the Lakers’ Magic Johnson in 1988 to have a triple-double consisting of at least 25 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds.
No one can take that away from Westbrook. But Clippers coach Doc Rivers and a couple of his key players intimated their lack of defense is why the Thunder won the game.
“I thought our defense overall from the tip was bad,” said Rivers, whose team plays host to the New York Knicks on Friday night at 7:30 at Staples Center. “One of the rare games where we just didn’t establish ourselves defensively, I thought it bled over to our offense so give them credit.
“I thought they moved the ball, they trusted their offense the entire game, made the extra passes, but I just thought we were horrible defensively tonight. It happens.”
Point guard Chris Paul concurred.
“We gave up 39 (points) the first quarter, 60-something (64) in the first half,” he said. “We just never impacted the game defensively. I feel like Russ (Westbrook) went wherever he wanted to go, and that’s on me. But we’ve got to be better.”
Shooting guard J.J. Redick gave his take.
“They played a great game,” he said post-game. “They played a great 48 minutes. Even when we would make a run, they would always respond. They got off to a great start – 39 points in the first quarter is unacceptable. We’ve been a good defensive team, but we were just awful tonight.”
All that said, Rivers made sure he gave Westbrook his due. Sort of, anyway.
“He was great,” Rivers said. “I mean, he didn’t have a lot of resistance, though, you know? We were sending him certain ways and there was nobody there to help. But he still has to do it and you can do half the league and play with wrong coverage and they still can’t get those numbers, so give Westbrook credit.”