Even when he posts a triple double, Russell Westbrook has to do it with some awful shooting numbers, showing just how much more work has to be done in regards of taming his offensive tendencies. The exact opposite might be said of Kevin Durant, the perfect scoring machine, about to win the scoring title despite not being the player taking the most shots on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Beating the Milwaukee Bucks 109-99, the Thunder showed that special thing that makes them so good – defensive focus, which doesn’t always happen, unfortunately for a team most think is the most talented in the NBA. Sometimes, Perkins, Durant and Westbrook seem to be in that zone, and actually take pride in playing good defense. When that happens, it’s hard to argue about the Thunder being the best, or right up there with the Heat, in the NBA.
I told them we had to take some pride in our defensive possessions. It was an individual effort by a lot of guys. Serge Ibaka did a phenomenal job protecting the basket and blocking and altering their shots. Russell and Kevin did a good job defending their players. We just put our defense mentality to be aggressive and try to score off our defense.
Durant scored 30 points, adding 8 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 10-19 and going an almost perfect 9-10 from the line. The Bucks have good defensive players – Marquis Daniels and Larry Sanders are no slouches, but it’s hard for a limited team like the Bucks to handle an all-fronts attack with Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant and Westbrook.
Westbrook actually took less shots than Durant (for once), but he did finish with 6-18 from the field. Maybe the fact that he was playing against two other frustrating volume-type scorers in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis brought out the worst in his shooting, but he did everything else very well, finishing with 23 points (10-14 from the line), adding 13 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals.
It’s these kind of efforts from Westbrook that make you wonder why he still forces his offense so much when things aren’t going his way – he isn’t exactly alone in the ability to score on the floor. It might be good enough for away wins against the Milwaukee Bucks, but unless this kind of defense becomes a more recurring habit and Durant doesn’t feel like someone on his own team is competing with him, that NBA title will continue to seem a bit too far to reach.