PORTLAND, Ore. — After Tuesday’s deflating 114-94 loss to the Portland Path Blazers in Sport 2, the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder are heading again dwelling in an Zero-2 collection gap with Russell Westbrook taking duty for the workforce’s poor efficiency and vowing to play higher in Sport Three.
“Beginning with myself, I’ve obtained to play higher,” Westbrook mentioned. “And tonight, the loss, I’ll take full duty for tonight. As a result of the way in which I performed was unacceptable. I’ll be higher, so I am not frightened one bit. My job is to ensure I proceed to return out and can and lead our guys and ensure we now have an opportunity to win the sport.”
Sport 2 contained normal components for the Blazers taking part in nice: Damian Lillard was electrical with 29 factors; CJ McCollum poured in a game-high 33; and, like Sport 1, the Thunder shot the ball miserably from Three-point vary (5-of-28).
The storyline of Sport 1 largely centered round Paul George’s shoulder and his struggles taking pictures the ball, however he bounced again with 27 factors on 11-of-20 taking pictures in Sport 2, wanting way more comfy along with his jumper.
It was Westbrook, although, who did not do the complementing this time round. He completed a rebound away from a triple-double, however with six turnovers and a few sloppy moments — together with a sequence the place he shot an air ball within the second quarter, then did not hustle again on protection, which led to Jerami Grant fouling Lillard on a made Three — Westbrook did not make his typical influence in Sport 2.
There is a historical past between Lillard and Westbrook, with the 2 sharing some trash-talking moments as longtime division rivals, they usually scuffled barely once more on Tuesday. Late within the second quarter, Westbrook was corralling a unfastened ball as Lillard tried to tie him up. Westbrook known as timeout, there was some contact and Westbrook fell again. After a evaluation, there have been no private or technical fouls assessed.
“They’re each pit bulls,” McCollum mentioned. “You’ve got obtained aggressive guys who play laborious. Effectively-known All-Stars, faces of their franchises and the stakes are excessive, so in case you’re a competitor, you look ahead to these moments and these alternatives to not solely put your self on the map, however you are workforce on the map, as properly.”
Lillard went on to outplay Westbrook in Sport 2, main the Blazers on a collection of runs that culminated in a 60-40 second half. Lillard performed a stellar defensive sport, locking in on Westbrook with bodily, hounding protection, knocking the ball away in post-ups and difficult Westbrook into questionable photographs.
“I do not actually have a selection however to embrace it,” Lillard mentioned. “That workforce goes to go so far as him and Paul George.”
Lillard, who has hit one fewer three on this collection (9) than all the Thunder workforce (10), was a plus-27 to Westbrook’s minus-27. In Sport 1, Westbrook was capable of cost downhill on the Blazers, particularly in transition, however he wasn’t capable of finding the identical form of house in Sport 2.
It’s kind of of ordinary fare for Westbrook to sit down on the podium and take duty or make a proclamation after a disappointing playoff efficiency.
For instance, after Sport Three in opposition to the Utah Jazz final postseason, a contest through which Ricky Rubio had 26 factors, Westbrook mentioned, “I am gonna shut that s— off subsequent sport although, assure that.” In that following tilt, Westbrook got here out overaggressive and picked up 4 fouls within the first half.
This collection turns to Oklahoma Metropolis for Sport Three on Friday, a digital must-win for the Thunder.
“They gained their first two dwelling video games, clearly needed to attempt to steal one after we can, however let’s simply stick with it,” Westbrook mentioned. “We’re an important basketball workforce, plenty of nice guys on this workforce that I belief in to make photographs and make performs on either side of the basketball. And we’ll be all proper.”