Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook has been criticized often over the past few years for his score-first approach and tendency to look away from teammate Kevin Durant in crunch time. All Westbrook has done during that time is refine his game and become one of the most explosive guards in the league, the 1A-level superstar to Durant's top dog. When the Thunder dispatched the Lakers in five games on Monday night, Westbrook played a huge role, scoring 28 points on 12-of-25 shooting and generally terrorizing the L.A. backcourt as he had for most of the series.
The clear highlight of the night was the play above, available for your viewing pleasure courtesy of our friends at the Yahoo! Sports Minute. With just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter and the score tied 70-70, Westbrook stole a pass from Ramon Sessions and jetted in the other direction. Sessions caught up with him for a foul 15 feet from the basket, but Westbrook's underhand desperation shot attempt banked off the backboard and through the basket. The three-point play started a 23-7 run for OKC that essentially decided the game and series. Westbrook seemed to recognize the importance at the time, too, as he followed up the shot with a ridiculously intense celebration (GIF available here via SB Nation).
There was some luck to the shot, of course, but it also exemplified the threat that the Thunder pose to the San Antonio Spurs in the upcoming Western Conference finals. This team is energetic, active, and capable of pulling off great theatrics in tense situations. In other words, they're the type of group that does big things during the playoffs.
Right now, there's no more watchable squad in the postseason. Miss their matchup with the Spurs at your own peril.
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- Russell Westbrook
- Kevin Durant
- Oklahoma City Thunder