Westbrook helps Thunder to another win

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Despite putting up slightly lesser numbers (by his standards), Russell Westbrook can be happy with the outcome of this game.

Posting only a double-double, Westbrook was able to dish out his final assist to teammate Anthony Morrow for the dagger three pointer, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, 109-100. Westbrook was impressive in the win (again), posting a stat line of 36 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. The last one was the one that mattered the most.

“We did a good job of learning from our mistakes,” Westbrook said. “The first time we played them, I had a chance to hit Serge [Ibaka] on a kickback [when] two guys were on me. Tonight, same situation — two guys on me. I kicked to A-Mo and trusted my teammate and he knocked it down, so it was good.”

In addition to the late three pointer, Anthony Morrow contributed 11 points off the bench. In another game where Serge Ibaka didn’t play, the rest of the Thunder cast came up big. The aforementioned Morrow along with Dion Waiters, DJ Augustin, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams all scored in the double digits for the Thunder. Kanter and Adams both recorded double-doubles, and maintained a strong presence under the rim.

They were aggressive throughout the night,” said Chicago forward Pau Gasol. “They understand that having a guy like Russell Westbrook that attacks so much and forces help, especially from bigs so deep into the paint, that they’re going to have opportunities. They’ve got size and strength, and they pursue.” It shows why the Thunder are the best rebounding team in the NBA with praise like that, and with the 52-33 advantage on the boards they certainly came to play on Sunday.

Who can stop Westbrook?

Other than the obvious answer of Chris Paul from last Wednesday, no one can stop the Thunder guard. Westbrook has been dominant since the All-Star break – In the last nine games, this was only the third time that Westbrook has not recorded a triple-double. He failed to do so against the Bulls partly because his team was shooting so poorly early on in the game. When Westbrook took over as the primary scoring option, the Thunder saw their shooting increase to a respectable 46% for the game.

The combination of Westbrook’s tenacious drives to the rim and his improved jump shot make him a lethal offensive weapon, and yet it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon. Westbrook was limited to 2 points in the first quarter on 0-6 shooting while taking jumpers, but he scored 34 points in the rest of the game by attacking the rim and creating more space for himself with the threats of strong drives.

He capped the game off with a 14 point final quarter, sinking 3-4 free throws in the final 15 seconds of the game to keep the lead. “You just try to make him work for his points,” said Tom Thibodeau, Bulls coach. “He’s playing at such a high level right now and he is making plays on top of it, so he keeps pressure on you at all times.”

Teams can only hope Westbrook shows his human side again if they hope to stop him. His numbers will regress when he gets back teammate Kevin Durant, but that’s a double-edged sword as the reigning 2014 MVP will be back on the court. Pick your poison – a seemingly unstoppable Russell Westbrook or a healthy Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook sharing the same floor. That’s a tough one.

MVP and Up Next

Westbrook can seemingly do no wrong, and once again earns MVP honors. With the Thunder sitting a game ahead of the Pelicans for 8th place in the west, fans can only hope he continues his torrid pace until the end of the season.

OKC will play on Monday when they travel to Dallas and take on the Mavericks.

Chicago will next play on Wednesday when they host the Indiana Pacers.

Pic Credit: espn.go.com

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