Thunder: `It's always positive'
missed two shots from beyond the arc in the first half. Ferguson had begun to turn around his shooting performance in the third quarter, sinking his first two 3-point attempts out of halftime, but the Thunder still trailed the Rockets by 14 points.
As Ferguson told it, “Russ was saying, `Play your game out there and stop thinking. And do what you do.' And that's just what happened.”
Westbrook adjourned the meeting with a pat on Ferguson's and Grant's heads. In the Thunder's next possession, Westbrook passed to Ferguson at the top of the arc, and he drained his third 3-pointer of the period. In the fourth quarter, Grant went 3-of-4 from the field and scored seven points.
“He connects everybody,” George said of Westbrook. “He keeps everybody playing at a high level. He's going to be confrontational in a positive way to uplift guys. He's going to be there to lift you up. It's always positive reinforcements coming from Russ.”
It happened again later in the third period. When George used a pause in play to give rookie Deonte Burton advise on guarding Houston's James Harden, Westbrook joined their mini-huddle. Early in the season, Ferguson said a long conversation with Westbrook after a loss helped him out of a shooting slump.
“For me, leadership is not all about basketball,” Westbrook said. “It's not all about what the cameras see. … Going to guys' houses, going to dinner, sitting down, learning about themselves.”
Westbrook made history Saturday night, recording 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to tie Wilt Chamberlain's record for consecutive triple-doubles. He also committed 10 turnovers and lamented that he hadn't found Schroder, Ferguson and Grant shots earlier in the game. Then again, he scored the game-winner and contested Harden's last shot of the night.
But like Westbrook said, it's not all about basketball.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (left) and Houston Rockets forward Kenneth Faried vie for a rebound during the first half of Saturday's game.