NORMAN — Russell Westbrook tried to take all the blame. After Oklahoma watched a 25 point lead dwindle to two points against Memphis, the talented point guard said it was due to his erratic play in the third quarter.
“It’s on me, man. I’ve got to a do a better job,” Westbrook said Sunday. “I turned the ball over a few times. Pace got real slow. I was lagging. It won’t happen again. It was my fault.”
However, coach Scott Brooks wouldn’t let Westbrook shoulder all of the blame for the poor third period in which the Thunder were outscored 31-13.
“The thing I get to see every day is Russell is a winner,” Brooks said. “He plays hard. He plays for his team. We win a lot of games because he’s on the floor. The thing I love about our teams is that we all know we could have done a better job in that third quarter. It’s not on him. But that’s when you know you have a good team when everyone takes ownership.”
Even though the Thunder still won by 100-86 to take Game 1 of their first round series with the Grizzlies, Westbrook knows that type of unfocused play can keep the team from its ultimate prize.
“Not if you want to win a championship, it ain’t,” Westbrook said when asked if remaining focused is sometimes a challenge. “As a point guard that’s what I want to do. I’ve got to do a better job being focused. Especially the start of third quarters, coming out of halftime. That’s normally when teams relax and we were that team.”
Before the Thunder can think about playing for a championship, it still has to deal with the Grizzlies at 7 p.m. tonight in Game 2 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. They will meet a Memphis squad that plans to be more prepared for the type of force Oklahoma City used to build a 25 point advantage in the first place.