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News » Two rare rookies meet tonight

Two rare rookies meet tonight

Two rare rookies meet tonight
If Russell Westbrook had a vote for Rookie of the Year, he'd cast it for Kevin Love, his former UCLA running mate who's now with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"He hasn't gotten the attention I think he should," Westbrook said.

The Thunder's point guard could have said the exact same of himself.

But Westbrook can bolster his case for the postseason award tonight when No. 1 overall pick and consensus Rookie of the Year frontrunner Derrick Rose leads his Chicago Bulls into the Ford Center.

Westbrook helped the Thunder to a 109-98 overtime win in the first meeting between the two teams, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Rose scored 16 points with six assists and three rebounds.

Could a season sweep of Rose's Bulls help Westbrook sway some votes?

"I don't think so," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "I don't think you can judge a Rookie of the Year on two games. ... For an individual award like the Rookie of the Year, it wouldn't be fair if whoever votes let it rest on those two games."

If team success is the barometer - which it wasn't last year when eventual winner Kevin Durant's Seattle Sonics finished 17 wins shy of Al Horford's Atlanta Hawks - Rose holds the edge. The Bulls had 11 more wins than the Thunder before Tuesday night's game against Boston and sat in a virtual tie with Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference's eighth playoff seed.

Chicago's team success is why Westbrook admittedly thinks he hasn't done enough to inch ahead of Rose and others in the race.

"The main thing is winning with your team," Westbrook said, "and putting your team in the best situation possible and getting better as the season goes along.

"I think everybody kind of thinks they deserve it. But I just try to get better each month or each week, just trying to improve myself on the court."

And if individual success and season-long improvement is the ultimate measuring stick, Westbrook is pacing the field.

Rose enters tonight's game averaging 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 0.8 steals. Westbrook is averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Memphis' O.J. Mayo leads all rookies in scoring with 18.7 points to go with 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals.

But of those three leading candidates, Westbrook leads the pack in points and rebounds since February, and only the Los Angeles Clippers' Eric Gordon (20.6 points) has averaged more points than Westbrook's 17.7 since January.

"Playing with both of them, I see a lot of talent," said Thabo Sefolosha, who came from the Bulls last month via trade. "Rose has that quickness. He came in the league ready. He carried us a bunch of times early in the season and plays a major role on that team in Chicago.

"So it's going to be a good match-up and I'm definitely looking forward to see them both going at it."

Bulls AT Thunder

→When: 7 p.m.

→Where: Ford Center

→TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37)

→Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.

Three things to know

→The Thunder won the first meeting 109-98 in overtime on Jan. 10.

→Chicago guard Derrick Rose was last year's No. 1 overall pick.

→The Thunder has won four straight home games and is 14-20 inside the Ford Center.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 20, 2009


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