Thunder star a valuable leader
Westbrook's work with younger teammates often goes unseen by the public
HOUSTON — The casual air of the interaction clashed with the stakes of the game.
Lingering behind the rest of their teammates, Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson leaned in as Russell Westbrook draped an arm over each of their shoulders. They looked like three friends in a buddy comedy cooking up some hare-brained plan. In some ways, they were.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan often says that Westbrook's leadership goes unseen by the public because many of his teaching moments go on behind the scenes. But in the middle of the court during a third-quarter time out Saturday, fans at the Toyota Center caught a glimpse of the veteran point guard's influence.
“That's a part of my job,” Westbrook said after the Thunder's 117-112 comeback victory over the Rockets, “is to make sure my team, my guys, stay together and stay confident in what they're doing.”
By the seven-minute mark in the third quarter, Westbrook, Paul George and Dennis Schroder already had given their halftime pep talks — when trailing by 22 points at the intermission, their message was, “this game is not over,” Schroder said. And Grant had just grabbed an offensive rebound and found Ferguson on the perimeter for a 3-pointer.
That's when Houston called a timeout, and Westbrook pulled Grant and Ferguson in for a chat.
Usually consistent catch-andshoot 3-point scorers, Ferguson and Grant had each taken and Portland at OKC
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