The Oklahoma City Thunder might have a force of nature in Russell Westbrook, picking up triple doubles at a scary rate, but it isn’t helping them win too much, losing 115-112 to the Portland Trail Blazers, falling apart in the fourth quarter against an impressive shooting display from Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
As impressive as Westbrook’s numbers are, finishing the month of February averaging 31.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists, making him the only player in NBA history other than Oscar Robertson to finish a month with a 30-10-8 average, the Thunder aren’t going very far with everything coming down to him. He’s an athletic freak, but he makes mistakes – maybe because that’s who he is, but it can be because of feeling a bit overworked late in games.
Westbrook shot just 7-of-21 from the field in the second half, going 1-of-9 on pull-up jumpers. After their previous game, Westbrook said he needs to trust his teammates a little bit more. He leads the NBA in assists percentage, but it has more to do with the fact that the balls goes through his hands on every single possession and less about his sharing and caring nature. The turnovers and overall the mistakes he makes come from the usual “ugly” side, his selfish one, that has cost the Thunder so many games in the past.
Balance is the key word, for the Thunder and Westbrook. The Blazers have a bit more to lean on at the moment. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points and so did Damian Lillard. Arron Afflalo added 18 off the bench, providing exactly the thing he was brought over for. The difference is having options: The Thunder don’t go to anyone else but Westbrook, who sometimes, rarely, thinks that it’s not his turn to take the big shot.
The Blazers went through Aldridge quite a lot as well, and didn’t regret it. He touched the ball on 52.1% of plays when he was on the floor, and the Blazers scored 1.16 points per play when he was involved compared to 0.92 when he wasn’t. Their assist to turnover ratio and their field goal percentage were both a lot higher when Aldridge was involved. Not on every play, but just enough to make him useful, before it felt overbearing and too much. Balance.