NEW YORK — Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook only knows one speed, and that’s all out.
That goes for practice, pick up games, workouts, regular season and playoff games and apparently All-Star Games, too.
Westbrook scored an All-Star Game record 27 first-half points and then sealed the deal for the Western Conference side in a 163-158 victory in the 64th All-Star Game Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
The rest of the league should consider a storm warning for what’s to come in the second half of the season from Westbrook and the Thunder, who have a nasty fight ahead of them to earn a playoff spot.
Westbrook finished with a game-high 41 points on 16-for-28 shooting from the floor and 5-for-9 from beyond the 3-point line, giving chase to Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game record of 42 points. He scored 8 points in the fourth quarter to help the West All-Stars squeeze out the win and even sparked a smattering of MVP chants as he sank to two free throws in the final seconds.
“It’s amazing a blessing to be here in NYC,” Westbrook said. “I’m definitely excited to go home and take this trophy with me.”
Westbrook had to do his work in a reserve role. His former Thunder teammate, Houston Rockets guard and the league’s leading scorer James Harden (29 points) and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (15 points) held down the starting backcourt spots.
He stood out among the very best the league has to offer. Not even LeBron James (an East-leading 30 points) could keep him from the trophy Sunday night.
Westbrook and Thunder star and reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant, who scored just 3 points and played just 10 minutes, should have plenty left in the tank for what should be a furious second-half of the season rally.
The Thunder are in their current playoff predicament (they trail the Phoenix Suns by half a game for the 8th and final playoff spot) because of injuries, and time missed by both Westbrook and Durant. But they both showed up here with chips on their respective shoulders, Westbrook’s is always in place, while Durant seems to have added one to his repertoire only recently.
Westbrook was all smiles after Sunday’s game. But you can bet he’ll have his scowl back on by Thursday night, when games resume around the league after the extended All-Star Break.
He wouldn’t have it any other way, would he?
This article appears courtesy of NBA/Sekou Smith
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