Tag: Russell Westbrook

Miami Heat v Washington Wizards

John Wall sits entire fourth quarter, still posts career-high 18 assists in win over Knicks


John Wall played just 29 minutes in Washington’s win on Friday, but that was more than enough to dish out a career-high 18 assists against the dismal New York Knicks.

From Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post:

“Everybody on the team was just trying to tell me to get 20,” Wall said. “That’s one of my goals, trying to get 20. I keep falling short.” …

“I always try to be a pass-first guy except in certain situations when I have to be aggressive and start scoring for the team,” Wall said. “But that’s my mindset going into it – to get everybody into a rhythm pretty early. It makes the game a lot easier closer to the end of the game when guys start double-teaming and I’m missing shots. Those guys can help close out games with me.”

Wall and the rest of the starters weren’t needed to close out Friday, which meant he didn’t have a chance to reach 20 assists. He was fine with it.

“I didn’t care,” Wall said. “I wanted to get some rest.”

Wall has really elevated his game this year, and he may not be getting the attention he deserves with so many players (James Harden, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and even LeBron James)  having truly ridiculous seasons.

MORE: CSN Washington subscriber? Watch Wizards-Grizzlies Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET

Scott Brooks on Russell Westbrook’s recent poor shooting: ‘That has nothing to do with his minutes’

Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers

Russell Westbrook has been largely incredible for the Thunder this season, putting up enough triple-double performances to have him firmly entrenched in the MVP conversation.

But while Westbrook has indeed been stuffing the stat sheet on a regular basis, his performances have lacked efficiency, especially recently.

Only twice in his last nine games has Westbrook managed to shoot better than 34.5 percent from the field, and he’s shot just 25 percent and 31.3 percent respectively in his last two games. But when asked about Westbrook’s heavy work load and recent statistical slide, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said the amount of minutes he’s playing his star has no impact on Westbrook’s latest poor performances.

From Royce Young of ESPN.com:

[S]ince Durant’s last game on Feb. 21, Westbrook is averaging 37.0 (minutes) a game. Over his last four: 40.0 a game.

“I know what you’re getting at, and I don’t know what your angle is, but he missed some shots, and he’s missed some shots the last couple games,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He plays hard. He’s going to get tired after every game. That’s what he does. That’s what an NBA player should do.

“That has nothing to do with his minutes,” Brooks continued. “His minutes have been good all year long and we’ve monitored them. He missed some shots. Every time you have a bad shooting game, or a couple bad shooting games, it’s not because you’re tired. It’s just things don’t fall. He competes, he leaves everything on the floor and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

I would agree that minutes, by themselves, are not at the root of Westbrook’s issues. Instead, it’s the level of responsibility Westbrook has to carry his team offensively that’s causing him to wear down at this late stage of the season.

Usage rate is an advanced statistic that measures the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes. Westbrook leads the league with a mind-blowing number of 38, which is the highest by far of any player over the past 12 seasons. Most league-leaders have finished the year with a number right around 33 during that 12-year span.

This is clearly what the problem is, though it’s not like the injury-ravaged Thunder have much of a choice. After two straight losses, they’re now clinging to the final playoff spot in the West by only a half-game over the Pelicans, and at least four of their remaining six games on the schedule should pose a significant challenge.

So, despite the fact that Westbrook is waning, don’t expect anything to change as the regular season comes to a finish.

“He’s one of the best players in basketball. What do you want me to do, take him out?” Brooks said. “That makes sense.”

Rockets, Grizzlies tied for second, Pelicans running down Thunder; West playoff races are the best

Glen Davis, Tim Duncan, Aron Baynes

There are just a dozen nights left in the NBA regular season, and you’d like to think the playoff situation is settling into place.

For example, the Golden State Warriors have locked up the top seed in the West.

After that, however, the West is still wide open. Let’s take a look.

No. 1 seed: As previously mentioned, the Golden State Warriors have officially secured up the top spot. They will have home court throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

No. 2-3 seeds: After an impressive win by Memphis over Oklahoma City on Friday night, this is currently a tie between Memphis and OKC. These two teams likely finish 2-3 (the Clippers are two games back and could move into the discussion, but they need some help). Memphis has the slightly easier remaining six games — both teams have three games on the road but the Rockets have a home-and-home against the Spurs remaining. The key for Houston is Sunday against the Thunder. For Memphis,  their big test starts on the road Friday at Utah, followed by more road games against the Clippers and Warriors.

No. 4-6 seeds: The Clippers, Spurs and Trail Blazers are all in this mix and could still finish in any order. Well, not any order, Portland will be the four seed as the winners of the Northwest Division, however, they do not get home court in the first round if the five seed as the better record. Los Angeles and San Antonio are tied at 50-26, with Portland half a game back. The Spurs have the toughest schedule the rest of the way so if you’re betting they may be the team to bet against. That said, they are the Spurs. This is still a crap shoot.

No. 7 seed: Dallas is  locked in here. I mean, they could fall out of it mathematically, but don’t bet on it.

No. 8 seed: Just days ago this seemed like a lock for Oklahoma City, but a couple of losses while New Orleans stays hot, and the Pelicans are just half a game back entering Saturday. The Pelicans have the much tougher schedule the rest of the way, so Russell Westbrook and company should have the advantage over Anthony Davis and company. But the Pelicans have seemed out of it before, be careful betting against them.