Russell Westbrook admits frustration over benching in NBA Finals
MIAMI -- Seven of the first eight questions Russell Westbrook fielded during a media session Monday were related to something the Oklahoma City Thunder guard didn’t do for the final 5 minutes 1 second in the third quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Westbrook was benched by Coach Scott Brooks on Sunday against the Miami Heat after an awful span of 82 seconds in which Westbrook missed two shots and committed two turnovers.
“He had a bad stretch,” Brooks said Monday. “He was about to come out within probably the next two minutes to get his normal rest.”
The Thunder led, 60-54, when Westbrook left the game. He joined fellow All-Star Kevin Durant on the bench, where his teammate had sat since picking up his fourth foul with 5:41 left in the quarter.
By the time Westbrook and Durant returned to start the fourth quarter, the Heat had pulled to within 69-67. Oklahoma City twice fouled Heat shooters on three-point attempts, resulting in six points, and missed five free throws in the final 3:55 of the quarter.
“It was the coach’s decision,” Westbrook said. “You have to live with it. Didn’t have too many conversations of coming back into the game, just kind of just waited and seeing when I get called to go back in.”
Westbrook said none of the Thunder coaches told him why he came out or why he sat for such a long stretch, not that he expected them to.
“They don’t have to particularly cater to what is best for me,” said Westbrook, who finished the game with 19 points on eight-for-18 shooting in 38 minutes. “You have to do what is best for the team.”
Westbrook was visibly frustrated when he exited the game, hitting a chair on the bench.
“Just wanted to stay in the game,” he said. “You know, it was an important time at the time, an opportunity for us to go up who knows how many points. Just upset with myself.”
Westbrook’s situation was in sharp contrast to that of Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who convinced Coach Erik Spoelstra to let him play the entire second half. Asked what it would take for him to develop that kind of relationship with Brooks, Westbrook said, “I don’t know. The coach makes the decisions. He’s been making them all season. So I just roll with it.”
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