By Michael Kinney
OKLAHOMA CITY — The past three days have been pretty hectic for Russell Westbrook. The Oklahoma City guard handed out thanksgiving dinners at the Boys & Girls Club Tuesday, beat Houston with a viral-worth dunk Wednesday and then was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame by Michael Jordan Thursday.
“It’s an unbelievable honor, man,” Westbrook said before the ceremonies. “It’s something you don’t take for granted. So definitely a blessing and something you won’t forget. MJ took the time out of his day to come all the way to Oklahoma City to do this for me. it’s an honor. I’m happy to have him here.”
Just another week in the life of the NBA’s most unique talents.
But, despite all of the off-court events and activities, Westbrook heads into Friday with his team still trying to find the success they had started the season with. The win over the Rockets broke the four-game losing streak, but it didn’t answer the pressing questions that had arisen.
If Houston hadn’t gone ice cold from the field in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City could be riding a five-game slide heading into its contest with the Brooklyn Nets.
“I thought their effort was good the entire game. But they really did a great job defensively, scrambling, rotating and moving,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “I’m not going to sit there and say that in the third and the fourth their shooting percentage from the 3-point line was all because of us, but I thought we did a better job defensively there in the second half than we did in the first half.”
One of the bright spots was the emergence of Victor Oladipo. He scored 29 points and was 5 of 7 from the 3-point line.
Oklahoma City (7-5) needs a confident Oladipo on the perimeter to keep defenses honest and from crowding Westbrook.
“I worked my whole life on shooting and increasing my range and things like that,” Oladipo said. “So I just go out there and shoot with confidence because I’m going to make some and miss some and at the end of the day, just go out and keep shooting with confidence.”
While the Thunder have been inconsistent, they have at least been competitive in almost all of their games. That can’t be said for the Nets, who have a minus 4.5-point differential. That is tied for seventh worst in the NBA.
It got even worse Monday night when Brooklyn was rolled over 127-95 by the Clippers. However, coach Kenny Atkinson sees the drubbing as a learning lesson.
“It’s actually good for our guys to see a team like this,” Atkinson told the NY Daily News. “They can see how well they are playing and their cohesiveness. They’ve been together for a while and they’re executing well. They turned us over and got us out of our game.”
As bad as the Nets have played at times this season, scoring has not been the issue. They are fifth in the Eastern Conference at just over 106 points a game.
But that hasn’t helped Brooklyn when it goes on the road. The Nets have a 1-5 record away from home.
The Thunder, on the other hand, are 5-3 at home. But have lost three of their last four at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Their three-game home losing streak came to an end Wednesday.
On the importance of breaking the losing streak:
“It was huge for us. It was real important to me,” Oladipo said. “This organization is known for winning. Losing is unacceptable. We got to do whatever it takes in our power to continue to keep winning.