4. Ricky Rubio
After Ricky Rubio went off for 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to fuel Utah to a Game 3 victory over the Thunder, Russell Westbrook vowed to “shut that s–t off” in Game 4.
NARRATOR: He did not.
Rubio didn’t follow up with his second straight triple-double, but he finished with 13 points, eight assists, six rebounds, a steal and a block in the Jazz’s Game 4 triumph over OKC, which gave Utah a 3-1 series lead. Whereas Rubio was a plus-22 on the night, Westbrook finished as a minus-14.
The reigning MVP allowed his emotions to get the best of him Monday night, as he picked up four first-half fouls (much to the delight of Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney). Rubio cunningly used Westbrook’s hyper-aggressive approach against him, drawing fouls from charges and while he guarded Rubio full-court.
“Little bit. Little bit,” Westbrook told reporters afterward in reference to how foul trouble changed the way he played in the second half. “Obviously, not being able to be on the ball takes a little bit of aggression away, but things like that happen within the game and you’ve got to figure out how to play with it.”
Emotions run high in the playoffs, but by staying even-keeled Monday night, Rubio and the Jazz took advantage of Westbrook’s intensity to gain a chokehold on the series.
Next: 3. Seattle fans