Russell Westbrook scored a career-high 54 points on Sunday trying desperately keep the Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoff chances alive — still OKC lost to Indiana 116-104. That leaves them tied with New Orleans for the final playoff spot in the West with two games to go (New Orleans has the tie breaker).
But Westbrook may also have killed OKC’s playoff dreams in the same game.
Above is the video of a technical handed out by Ed Malloy — that was Westbrook’s league-leading 16th of the season.
Sixteen is the magic threshold — it comes with an automatic one-game suspension. If this technical is not rescinded by the league, Westbrook will sit out Monday night when the Thunder play the Trail Blazers. This Thunder offense would be lost without Westbrook.
I think Ed Malloy was in the wrong here — that shouldn’t have been a technical foul. Granted, I don’t know what was said. Still, it’s the last six minutes of a game late in the season with serious playoff implications; you have to let the players vent a little. Westbrook wasn’t demonstrative or showing up Malloy, he was just emotional. As a player should be in that situation. If Malloy had warned Westbrook and he continued that would be one thing, but there was no warning here.
Kevin Durant more than agrees with me.
Scott Brooks believes this one will get called back by the league.
We will see. If not, and if as one would expect the Thunder lose Monday night to Portland without Westbrook, their playoff hopes would be incredibly dim. The Pelicans play the lowly Timberwolves Monday and a New Orleans win and OKC loss would give New Orleans the final playoff spot.