It’s not often that Kevin Durant isn’t the best player on a NBA floor. There are those two times a season when Durant faces off with Lebron James, but other than that, Durant stands as the superior amongst his peers. Yet, somehow, on a night where Durant scored 31 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, dished 5 assists, and collected 3 steals, Durant wasn’t that as his teammate in Russell Westbrook put on a show for the ages.
Since the latter end of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, Russell Westbrook has been borderline unstoppable. And tonight was an example of that as the point guard ended his night with 40 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals, a stat line that is a statistical rarity in the NBA.
In general, Westbrook’s line hasn’t been seen in the NBA since former Golden State Warriors point guard Baron Davis did it in 2005 in a win over the Houston Rockets, posting 40 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals. When narrowing the selection field to solely the playoffs, the date goes back further, 1989 to be exact, when Michael Jordan posted 44 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals, and 1 block in a Game 3 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Westbrook’s dominance goes far past the numbers, though it’s hard to see how that makes sense on a night like this. He sets the tempo for those around him to follow. As Westbrook is aggressive, he’s indadvertedly creating open shots for his teammates. And as he continues to display his athleticism, something the San Antonio Spurs have struggled with in regards to the Thunder, dating back to the 2012 Western Conference finals, he guides his teammates into doing the same.
Tied 2-2, it’s gut check time for the San Antonio Spurs as they’ve squandered another 2-0 lead to the Thunder, but if Russell Westbrook continues to post stat lines such as this, we’ll be treated to Miami vs. Oklahoma City Part 2 in the 2014 NBA Finals.