Russell Westbrook was most certainly public enemy No. 1 in Salt Lake City on Monday night, and even Mitt Romney got in on the act.
The former presidential candidate was in attendance for Game 4 of the Utah Jazz’s playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. After Westbrook picked up his fourth foul late in the second quarter, Romney was among those to taunt the Thunder guard.
This game has everything, including Mitt Romney taunting Westbrook lol pic.twitter.com/dGmu2v9RFy
— Pettywise (@World_Wide_Wob) April 24, 2018
Romney, who previously served as governor of Massachusetts, has announced his candidacy for a senate seat in Utah. Taunting one of the Jazz’s postseason enemies will certainly help endear him to the voters. And Westbrook hasn’t exactly helped his popularity in the state with his comments on Ricky Rubio.
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is calling a controversial Instagram like an accident.
Durant was caught on Instagram liking a fan comment that called former teammate Russell Westbrook the “problem” that led to his departure. This raised a lot of eyebrows and started a lot of chatter, but according to Durant, it’s a non-story because it was all an accident.
Kevin Durant tells ESPN he inadvertently liked the IG comment that was critical of Russell Westbrook as he scrolled through his timeline. "No story here,” he said.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) April 23, 2018
It’s up to you whether or not you buy it. Durant has been fairly forthcoming about his questionably social media activity in the past, so perhaps he’s earned the benefit of the doubt here. That said, it’s quite the coincidence that this would be the comment he just happens to like by mistake.
Kevin Durant vs. Russell Westbrook will never truly die.
The latest spark is Durant allegedly liking an Instagram comment suggesting Westbrook was “the problem” when the duo were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
KD liked the comment pic.twitter.com/E9KSy72n6Q
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 23, 2018
Weird things happen on Instagram. Sometimes things accidentally get liked or faked. Given the context and the history between Durant and Westbrook and the fact that Durant has a long history of using social media to defend himself and his past, however, this looks like it may be legitimate. If it is, it’s going to needlessly drum up more questions about that relationship as the Warriors are still trying to close out the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference quarterfinals — while the Thunder try to fight back from a 2-1 deficit in their matchup with Utah.
Ricky Rubio had arguably his best game of the year in Saturday night’s playoff win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Russell Westbrook has promised it will not happen again in the series.
After Rubio led the Utah Jazz to a victory with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, Westbrook admitted he let his counterpart get in too much of a rhythm. The NBA MVP candidate insists Game 4 will be different.
“He made some shots,” Westbrook told reporters, per ESPN’s Royce Young. “Too comfortable. But I’m gonna shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”
The Thunder have been intentionally forcing Rubio to take midrange shots throughout the series, and it seemed to be working prior to Game 3. After he shot just 5-of-18 from the field in Game 1 and 6-of-16 in Game 2, Rubio converted 9-0f-18 on Saturday but was a perfect 5-for-5 with midrange jumpers.
“I think the first two games, I wasn’t being effective in the midrange area,” Rubio admitted. “It’s been something I’ve been working on. I felt good about it, but it wasn’t going in.
“But tonight, it felt good seeing the first couple go in. It’s just the way we played. We got open shots, and it’s easy to make shots when you are open.”
Westbrook is apparently planning to eliminate some of those open shots going forward, but he also needs to improve offensively. He’s shooting just over 36 percent from the field in the series and scored just 14 points in Saturday’s 115-102 loss. That’s not the player we saw recently make NBA history with his offensive ability.
The Oklahoma City Thunder found themselves in some controversy this last week after a bad comment from their play-by-play announcer.
During the Thunder’s season-ending win over the Memphis Grizzlies, play-by-play man Brian Davis said point guard Russell Westbrook was out of his “cotton-picking mind” as he continued to fill the stat sheet. This was widely viewed as racist, and it led the Thunder to suspend Davis from his duties for the opening game of the playoffs.
Davis has apologized publicly and privately met with the team. On Saturday, Westbrook condemned the comment while adding that he was ready to move on.
“Brian has been here for a while. What he said wasn’t OK,” Westbrook said, via Erik Horne of NewsOK. “We all understand that. But he definitely came in and talk(ed) to us. The team has made the decision to do what they need to do. We just have to move on from it.”
Teammate Paul George agreed, adding that the team’s focus is on their playoff run.
“He just addressed the situation. That was it,” George said. “That’s not where our focus is right now. It happened. He owned up. He took it head on. That’s for the front office and him to discuss. They did, so we move on. We move on. We got something bigger to focus on and be worried about. So again, it happened, but we’ll move on.”
Westbrook has had other worries, too. With the playoffs looming, the Thunder will want to put this behind them and focus on that instead.
Russell Westbrook entered play on Wednesday needing 16 rebounds to average a triple-double for the season and become the first player to ever average a triple-double in more than one NBA season. He accomplished the feat early in Oklahoma City’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies at home.
Here’s video of the rebound that helped him make history:
Russell Westbrook grabs his 16th rebound, and now will average a triple double for the second straight year… WOW. pic.twitter.com/bZMmooMxHn
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) April 12, 2018
Westbrook’s teammates were certainly an integral part of him reaching the milestone on Wednesday. They frequently orchestrated things so that Westbrook could grab the reounds, as you could see in that video. But the strategy paid off as having the ball in his hands early led to more assists for Westbrook and fast break points for the team.
And make no mistake, this game is a manipulation. Westbrook is going for it … and his teammates are OK with it.
As a basketball moralist, I suppose you can gripe. But can you when the Thunder also has 22 fast-break points, 14 off Westbrook assists?
Just asking honest q's.
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) April 12, 2018
Westbrook has faced some questions about whether he achieves his stats legitimately or steals rebounds from his teammates. The point guard issued a firm response to those critics.
Russell Westbrook needs 16 rebounds in Wednesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies to average a triple-double for the second straight season, and there has been some talk about him “stealing” rebounds in order to accomplish that feat. Not surprisingly, Westbrook has heard enough of that.
Westbrook has been accused many times of stealing rebounds from his teammates just increase his own total. The star point guard addressed that while speaking with reporters on Wednesday.
Russell Westbrook went off a bit on the idea he stat-pads rebounds: “If you don’t want it, I’m gonna get it. Simple as that.” pic.twitter.com/z7BstM154p
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 11, 2018
“A lot of people make jokes about stat-padding or going to get rebounds,” Westbrook said. “If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would. If people could get 15 rebounds, they would. People that are talking, saying whatever they need to say, they should try doing it and seeing how hard it is. … I’m tired of hearing the same old rebound this, stealing rebounds, all this s—.
“If I get to the ball faster than somebody else gets to it, that’s just what it is. If you don’t want it, I’m gonna get it. Simple as that.”
Westbrook insists he is approaching Wednesday night’s game the same way he always does, and that is by focusing on winning and not statistics. His comments on the subject came a day after Carmelo Anthony admitted that Westbrook “steals rebounds sometimes,” but he painted it as a positive tendency.
The idea of Westbrook padding his rebound stats has been somewhat of a running joke in the NBA for a while now, so it’s strange that he picked the day of the regular season finale to address it. Perhaps he felt Anthony left him no choice.