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News » Westbrook steps up


Westbrook steps up


Westbrook steps up
Fresh off his Rookie of the Month-winning February, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook wasted no time in making his mark in March.

Westbrook recorded his first career triple-double to lead the shorthanded Thunder to a stunning 96-87 win over Dallas on Monday night at the Ford Center.

Playing without injured teammates Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, Westbrook scored 17 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 41 minutes, showing the strides he's made since November.

Westbrook controlled the pace of the game without being in a rush offensively. He moved the ball around and found open teammates. And he helped limit Dallas point guard Jason Kidd to nine points, five rebounds and five assists.

Westbrook finished with a game-high six turnovers, but four of them came in the final period when the Mavs intensified their pressure and rallied back from a 20-point deficit to start the fourth quarter.

"Russell did a good job of making guys better," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "He's learning how to play a position, and he's doing a great job. He's improving month-to-month. I don't look at Russell game-to-game. I look at him in bigger chunks ... He's improved every month, and we all see that."

Westbrook finished February averaging 20.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists, ranking first among rookies in scoring, second in assists and fifth in rebounding. Even he admitted the vast improvement in his play now compared to November.

"I think I'm a lot better," said Westbrook. "I see the game a lot slower. I'm going to try to continue to get better and help my team win games."

Westbrook moved within 0.2 rebounds of becoming the sixth player to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. The other five are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala.

"He's really growing right now every single game," said Nenad Krstic, who scored a team- and season-high 26 points with six rebounds. "You can see he's getting smarter in the game... You can really compare him to (Kidd) because he's a really good rebounder for his size. So he's just going to get better."

The Thunder (15-45) notched only its fourth two-game winning streak of the season and its first since early February. But the current modest streak is arguably the most impressive.

Oklahoma City won in Memphis last Saturday without Durant, who is out with a sprained right ankle, and Green missed his first game of the season Monday with a sore lower back.

Still, the Thunder turned in its best defensive effort since a 94-85 win over New Jersey on Jan. 26, when the Nets shot just 40 percent. The Mavs shot 42.5 percent, were out-rebounded 41-34 and had only two players, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, reach double-digit scoring.

"Those first three quarters they really just dominated," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "How hard they're playing without their two best players, just a lot of credit to them."


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 5, 2009

 

 
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