Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors battled out a tough win in Durant’s first game back in Oklahoma City after leaving the Thunder to join the Warriors in the off-season.
Durant was met with a chorus of boos and ‘cupcake’ chants, and every missed shot was cheered louder than his makes were when he was in a Thunder uniform. Some fans made signs, others made shirts, and others just mouthed off at every opportunity.
But in a match-up that was more about Durant versus Westbrook than the Warriors versus OKC, Russell Westbrook stole the show, scoring 47 points on an efficient 14-26 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
Durant had himself a good game, scoring 34 points on 12-21 shooting to go with 9 rebounds, but given the talent on each team, Westbrook was by far the better player.
Westbrook came out to start the game the way he starts any other game: relentless aggression, mind-boggling athleticism and unselfish passing. These same qualities are what people not too long ago criticised him for, saying that he was selfish and needed to let Durant take over. But now that he is left to run a team of his own, we are seeing the beast that is Russell Westbrook.
As the Warriors took a large lead and the game appeared to be slipping away from OKC, Durant was switched onto Westbrook on defence on a few possessions, and almost every time Westbrook came away with a score or an assist and before long the lead was down to single digits in the final quarter.
As Durant sat for periods of the final quarter with foul troubles, Westbrook, with foul troubles of his own, continued his unwavering assault at the rim, and knocked down a couple of jump shots as Golden State struggled to score down their end of the court.
But the constant barrage that is Golden State’s offence proved too much, as Klay Thompson nailed a few shots and got to the free-throw line, and Westbrook’s superhuman efforts could not keep up. Kevin Durant came back into the game and hit a long three over Westbrook that sealed the win, holding his pose for show.
Durant got the last laugh, but the willpower of Westbrook to lead his undermanned squad throughout most of the game was truly admirable.
Usually in sports, nobody remembers the middle-of-the-road teams that fight gallantly but are simply too undermanned to cause a major upset. But because of the controversial nature of Durant’s departure, and the super-human performances of Russell Westbrook each and every night, NBA fans will remember and salute what Russell Westbrook is doing this season, regardless of what happens in early June.
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