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#pounditFriday, May 7, 2021

Stan Van Gundy has blunt comments about Russell Westbrook after loss

Stan Van Gundy

The New Orleans Pelicans lost a tough game to the Washington Wizards in overtime on Friday, and the defeat pretty clearly left Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy quite agitated.

The Pelicans led the Wizards 103-94 with under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but scored just two points over the remainder of regulation. That allowed the Wizards to battle back and force overtime, at which point Russell Westbrook took over. The veteran guard scored 10 of Washington’s 12 points in overtime, including two vital threes, as the Wizards pulled out a 117-115 win.

Van Gundy wasn’t impressed. When asked what his team should have done differently against Westbrook in overtime, the Pelicans coach essentially dismissed Westbrook’s made shots as lucky.

“We wouldn’t have fouled him at the end,” Van Gundy said. “I mean, he banked in a three and hit another one. He’s not a very good three-point shooter. If I could change anything, we wouldn’t have fouled him.”

On one hand, Van Gundy has a point. Westbrook is hitting his threes at only a 31.2 percent clip this season. On the other hand, Westbrook was essentially wide open on one of the attempts Van Gundy is alluding to, and even a subpar perimeter shooter can hit from deep when their shots aren’t being contested. Van Gundy should probably be upset with his defense for failing to close down Westbrook better.

The irony was that Van Gundy was expected to make the Pelicans stronger defensively. That doesn’t seem to have happened, particularly on Friday night.

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