If anyone can go 3 of 19 from the field and still impact winning, it’s LA Clippers’ Russell Westbrook.
With less than 20 seconds left on the game clock, Devin Booker was working on Westbrook in isolation from the top of the key. Driving to his left, Booker took long strides and shot the ball at the prospect of cutting the Clips’ lead to one.
What he didn’t know was who was chasing him down. The fiery, high-flying Westbrook rose feet up in the air to block Booker’s shot. As Booker turned to the refs to complain, ‘The Brodie’ bounced back up and threw the ball out of bounds off Booker: Clippers ball with ten seconds left.
This crowd-shushing sequence was only the cherry on top of Westbrook’s dominance in the clutch.
With just a little over a minute left on the fourth, the Clippers were barely hanging onto their one-point lead. The Suns had just scored, the crowd ever so hectic and loud.
With chants of “defense” flooding inside Footprint Center, Kawhi Leonard’s fadeaway jumper fell short. Westbrook was there to catch it. In the subsequent sequence, Terance Mann’s three went wide. Westbrook was there to knock it out of bounds off Deandre Ayton. And after another ball bounced off Ayton, the veteran point guard took matter into his own hands.
Booker fouled him near the paint for two free throws, both of which he sunk. All the reckless offensive rebounding and out-of-bounds calls later, the Clippers erased more than 40 seconds off the clock. The Clippers, all thanks to their newest acquisition, held onto their lead to beat the star-stakced Suns.
Russell Westbrook’s energy and heart secured a win for the LA Clippers.
While Russell Westbrook’s scoring and shot-making will always be unpredictable and, at times, questionable, there’s no denying his palpable energy for the LA Clippers. In 36 minutes, the UCLA product stuffed the stat sheets with 9 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals.
“My whole career, I’ve been priding myself every season to do everything,” Westbrook said in the post-game conference. “I think I’m one of those guys that can do everything each and every night. Whatever’s needed of me to win the game, I’ll do it.”
And Tyronn Lue and the Clippers can only hope this continues for the rest of the series.
Matched up against Chris Paul, the nine-time All-Star will always have the athletic advantage over Paul. Wesbtrook is stronger, quicker, and, quite evidently, is a lot more willing to make defensive plays.
His tenacity and toughness present him as a worthy defender for even a prolific, smooth-as-butter scorer like Booker. And with Kevin Durant, Westbrook doesn’t shy away from matching up against the lengthy superstar — if anything, it looks like he’s quite enjoying the task of locking down his former teammate.
If Westbrook can find a way to be more efficient from the floor — much like how he was nearing the end of the regular season — beating the Suns in a seven-game series doesn’t entirely feel like a far-fetched dream.