Congratulations, Russell Westbrook.
Ricky Rubio didn’t have another 26-point triple-double, just like you said.
Too bad that played right into the hands of the Utah Jazz in their dominant Game 4 victory on Monday.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard committed to his post-Game 3 vow to shut down Rubio, and the Jazz leveraged Westbrook’s overplaying the pass-first guard into easy buckets throughout a 113-96 blowout for a 3-1 lead in the teams’ first-round playoff series.
How Thunder head coach Billy Donovan didn’t see this coming, I’m not sure. He had two days to point out to Westbrook that it’d be unwise to focus on locking down a career 38.5 percent shooter while not helping off him.
At halftime, analyst Kenny Smith did a good job of illustrating the senselessness of Westbrook’s determination to lock down Rubio.
Rubio scored 13 points and added six rebounds, eight dimes, a steal, and a block. He had a game-high +22.
He also used Westbrook’s aggressiveness against him, drawing four fouls on the 2017 MVP in the first half.
“We play as a team,” Rubio said after the victory when asked about Westbrook’s vow to shut him down.
He added: “Winning, it’s the most important thing. We’re here to win games and that’s it.”
Shockingly, Westbrook wasn’t eager to talk about the matchup with Rubio. You know, the one he’d drawn so much attention to in the first place.
Russell Westbrook on defending Ricky Rubio: “It wasn’t about me and him, let’s get past that. We done with that” pic.twitter.com/5tZMCLgCie
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) April 24, 2018
Whether it’s hunting triple-doubles or perceiving a rivalry no one else sees, Westbrook always seems committed to at least one game within the game.
Too bad that doesn’t contribute to winning playoff games.