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Russell Westbrook explains how his stare-down against the Clippers was actually about his dad and the Lakers.
As part of a freelance piece I'm writing, I was on hand for Sunday's contest at Staples between the Thunder and Clippers. The Clips rallied during what appeared an inevitable route, and the eventual 108-104 OKC victory came down to the final possessions. Ultimately, the Thunder were pushed over the top after Russell Westbrook drained a 16-foot baseline jumper, which put the Thunder up by four with just 26 seconds left. The Clips used up 25 of those ticks on consecutive second chance possessions before finally converting a score. With just one second remaining, it was ballgame Thunder.
After hitting the shot, Westbrook immediately froze, then stared down the crowd, a reaction his detractors would label all-too predictable. Westbrook is hardly the only NBA player who enjoys him a stare-down after big shots, but his are among the most frequent. However, as the highly emotional point guard explained afterward, the act wasn't actually directed at Clippers fans.
"I was looking at my dad," explained Westbrook with a smile. "It's funny, because, this corner shot, I missed this corner baseline shot a couple years back. You guys won't remember, but I always remember I missed this baseline shot. Every time we work out in the summertime, we always talk about hitting that shot and I hit it, so..."
Asked which game he was referring to, Westbrook set the time machine for 2010.
"It was against the Lakers at home, when Pau Gasol tipped the ball in," clarified Westbrook. "The possession before, I missed a baseline jumper."
Laker fans refer to this contest as "Pau's monster offensive rebound during the 2010 playoffs."
Great players tend to have long memories and like him or not -- and most Lakers fans vote "not" -- Westbrook has steadily evolved into a great player. Thus, it wasn't necessarily shocking to hear how a past failure serves as continual motivation moving forward.