Thun­der: `It's al­ways pos­i­tive'

Tulsa World - - Sports -

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.

ERIC CHRIS­TIAN SMITH/AP

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.

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