MIAMI (Reuters) - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has no intention of changing his style of play despite questions being raised about his on-court decision making.
Westbrook came into the league as the number four pick of the 2008 NBA Draft as a UCLA scoring guard and was thrust into the point guard role for the Thunder, who have split the opening two games of the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat.
A misfiring start to Game Two allowed visiting Miami to take an 18-2 lead on their way to a 100-96 win over the Thunder that led former Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson to comment in his role as a TV analyst that it was the worst performance from a point guard he had seen in a finals game.
“I‘m not making no adjustments,” Westbrook told reporters on Saturday before practice for Game Three of the series.
“Regardless of what anybody says or regardless of what you guys say about how I play, it doesn’t matter. I‘m going to play my game regardless of what happens. I‘m going to go out and give 110 percent, and try to find a way to help us win the game.”
Westbrook scored 27 points in each of the first two games but has been ripped for looking after his own shot rather than feeding the ball to NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant.
However, he has the full support of Durant and Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
”I think Russell is an aggressive player. We need Russell to score,“ said Brooks. ”Russell is a very, very gifted, talented player, and we would not be in this position without Russell Westbrook.
“He missed two lay‑ups, he missed two 14‑foot pull‑ups, and he normally makes those,” Brooks said in breaking down his guard’s role in the Thursday’s dismal start.
“He got off to a bad start, but he came back. Without Russell in that second half, we don’t cut the lead to two with a chance to tie at the end.”
Westbrook shot 10-of-24 in the series opener, while Durant was 12-for-20. In Game Two, Durant made 12-of-22 shots versus 10-of-26 for the Westbrook.
Durant, who also had a frustrating first half against the Heat in Thursday’s defeat, said the criticism of his team mate was unfair.
“Everybody thinks he should be a traditional point guard like a (John) Stockton or a Mo Cheeks. There’s a lot of people that cannot be like Russ, either,” said Durant.
”We need him to play the way he plays. Of course he’s going to make mistakes, and we’re all going to make mistakes.
“He doesn’t care what people say, he’s going to play his game and we need him to play his game, and we’ll go from there.”
Brooks said he needed contributions from both Durant and Westwood.
“Him and Kevin are both terrific players,” the coach said. “They both have to score points for us to be successful. I don’t look at who gets more, who doesn’t get more. I look at the quality of shots.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford