43 points. Seven rebounds. Five assists. Russell Westbrook was pure and complete brilliance for 46 minutes.
And then he made the biggest mistake of his career.
Westbrook played the best game of his professional career, in a game where the Thunder needed each and every point, rebound, assist and play to hang with Miami after the Heat survived the Thunder’s hot start. Westbrook was fearless, relentless, and deliberate. He got to the rim, he got the mid-range jumper going, he helped his team respond to every huge shot from Miami.
And then, right when it was right there for him to change the story, quiet the critics, this happened:
In no way should this loss be put on Westbrook’s shoulders. They would have been buried beneath the Heat’s offense without Westbrook. It was a mistake, one of several the Thunder made, but just one. James Harden’s inability to convert anything resembling a major play was worse. Derek Fisher’s layup attempt that was blocked, leading to a Lebron James conversion at the other end was worse. Serge Ibaka’s rotation defense was worse. They were there, with a chance to win, because of Westbrook. It drifted past because of Westbrook, and because Scott Brooks was unable to prepare the team to be ready for how the clock functions in that scenario.
That’s how things break in a Finals this close.
Call out the defense, call out the coaching, praise the Heat.
But don’t bring this on Westbrook’s shoulders. They carried too much in Game 4.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Knicks firing David Fizdale ‘inevitable’
Knicks president Steve Mills is reportedly laying the groundwork to fire coach David Fizdale.
One step: Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressing the media after Sunday’s loss to the Cavaliers while Fizdale was still in the locker room. Mills and Perry stressed that the team wasn’t meeting expectations, seemingly a veiled shot at the coach.
Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:
The dismissal of David Fizdale is inevitable, and there was, I think, a bond broken between management and their head coach with how they handled things after that loss Sunday night.
Coaches are hired to be fired, but this sounds far more urgent than that.
As long as Fizdale has his job, he has a chance to save it. If the Knicks start playing better, they could keep him.
But that seems unlikely with this underwhelming roster.
The Clippers were letting the game (an eventual 102-93 Houston win) get away from them when Doc argued a call. Austin stood nearby and urged the referee to call a technical foul. The official eventually obliged and ejected Doc.
That’s when Austin really hammed it up – waving off Doc then making the call-me gesture. The disrespect!
Ja Morant hits game-winner in Grizzlies-Hornets (video)