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Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) slaps hands with guard Alex Abrines (8) during an NBA basketball game between the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. 

SACRAMENTO — Whatever has been bugging Russell Westbrook at the free-throw line is apparently still present.

Westbrook has been trying to adjust to the NBA's new delay-of-game rules, which don't allow players to walk beyond the 3-point line between free-throw attempts. It clashes with his lifelong free-throw routine, walking out near half court after an initial free-throw attempt before returning for shot No. 2. 

And he hasn’t been able to find his rhythm early.

“That [expletive] is over,” he said Tuesday morning when asked if he's working on a new routine. “Original routine.”

He didn’t elaborate on the answer, instead just staring in silence at the reporter who followed up the "original routine" comment with, “So, you’re going back to it?”

Westbrook actually went back to his original routine for a moment Sunday against the Portland Trail Blazers, toeing a small step beyond the 3-point line after his first of three free throws with 20.5 seconds remaining in an at-the-time four-point game. Officials did not call him for a delay of game, but he ended up missing all three of his attempts on that trip to the line.

The penalty for walking beyond the 3-point line between free throws is a delay of game. Teams receive a warning on their first delay-of-game offense. The second offense is a technical foul and thus, one shot for the opposing team.

Westbrook had made just 59 percent of his 51 free throws heading into Tuesday night's game at the Sacramento Kings. He’s never missed so many during a stretch of this length during his career. He’s never come close to this percentage for a full season, hitting a career-worst 78 percent of his free throws during 2009-10, his second NBA season. 

He’s made 82 percent of free-throw attempts during his career.

“Any time you’ve got a player like Russell, anybody that’s traditionally been a really good free-throw shooter, they have to work through it themselves,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “A lot of times, you start talking to them about things you don’t want to change, mechanics. But I think because he’s been a good free-throw shooter, generally those guys know why they’re not making it, whether it’s not bending their knees enough, they’re not getting up on their toes. And I think he’ll work through that and figure that out.”

Westbrook previously told reporters that the new delay-of-game rules were having a tangible effect on his production from the line.

“I used to shoot and walk back behind the 3 [point line], and I'm not allowed to do that because of this new rule,” he said following the Thunder’s Oct. 25 victory over the Indiana Pacers. “I've been doing that since high school. Just gotta figure it out, figure out a different routine where I can take some time, take a deep breath, and figure it out. But I'll be alright.”

Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the postgame show, Thunder After Dark, and the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.

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