Durant’s 41 closes out the Nuggets, no thanks to Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (C) shoots between Denver Nuggets’ Arron Afflalo (6) and Denver Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin (4) during the first half of Game 5 of the Western Conference NBA basketball playoffs in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, April 27, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Sisney (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Thanks to Kevin Durant’s 41 points and Serge Ibaka’s defense down the stretch, the Thunder won Game 5 and closed out the series against the Nuggets, 100-97.

There’s no doubt about it — OKC won in spite of Russell Westbrook’s play. He went 3-of-15 from the field and turned the ball over three times while posting just four assists on a night that Durant hit 14 field goals. He nearly turned the ball over twice in the waning minutes, once dribbling the ball off of his foot after crossing half court and then again nearly whipping the ball out of bounds while attempting to pass the ball to James Harden. Ty Lawson beat him to the hole repeatedly because he kept getting stuck on ball screens set by Nene. He should thank his lucky stars that his teammates were there to protect the rim. (How about Serge Ibaka’s line? One point, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, NINE BLOCKS and five turnovers. Wowsers.)

Westbrook made a three-pointer with 8:11 to play to cut the Nuggets’ lead to four, but was pretty dreadful down the stretch. Here’s a look at his play-by-play:

6:56 Russell Westbrook misses jumper
6:13 Russell Westbrook misses 25-foot three point jumper
4:20 Russell Westbrook misses 5-foot two point shot (this was a force)
3:53 Russell Westbrook offensive rebound
3:50 Wilson Chandler blocks Russell Westbrook’s 4-foot jumper
3:03 Russell Westbrook makes free throw 1 of 2
3:03 Russell Westbrook misses free throw 2 of 2
1:15 Russell Westbrook shooting foul (Ty Lawson draws the foul)

So in the last seven minutes, he went 0-4 from the field, 1-2 from the free throw line, with one rebound, one assist and one foul. Plus, he nearly turned the ball over twice because he was sloppy with the ball. He also contributed to the defense that allowed Ty Lawson and Ray Felton to combine for 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the thing that really worries me about the Thunder is the lack of heady play at the point. There’s no doubt that Russell Westbrook is a great player, but he’s not yet a great point guard.

I’ll give him some credit for Game 5 though. Coming down the stretch, he recognized that it was not his night, gave the ball to Durant and got out of his way.

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