Westbrook defends aggressive gameplay in spite of criticism

By Greg Heakes ,AFP

MIAMI — Russell Westbrook says he’s not about to change his style of play despite criticism from several fronts following Game 2 of the NBA Finals. “I am not making any adjustments,” Westbrook said at Saturday’s Oklahoma City Thunder practice. “Regardless of what anybody says.

“I am going to play my game regardless of what happens. I am going to go out and give 110 percent and try to find a way to help us win the game.” The 23-year-old Westbrook is one of the NBA’s most athletic players but he also has a reputation as someone who can get rattled and fall into bad shooting habits.

For the most part during this postseason, Westbrook has been able to maintain his consistency but when he showed his erratic side in game two of the finals, former Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson let him have it. “That was the worst point guard performance in a championship finals I have ever seen,” said Johnson, who works as a TV analyst. “He was too wild. He was taking off-balance shots.” Westbrook shot 10-of-26 and finished with 27 points as the Thunder lost game two of the series 100-96 to the Miami Heat.

Westbrook is averaging 22.4 points per game in the postseason compared to 23.6 during the regular season. He says he knows there are some things he needs to improve on such as keeping his turnovers to a minimum. “There is always room for improvement, always room to get better. But the style of play that I play, that is not changing,” Westbrook said. Miami guard Dwyane Wade faced similar criticism for not getting his teammates involved more during the Heat’s run to the 2006 NBA title.

Then Heat coach Pat Riley said at the time when Wade handles the ball 50 times or more in a game, the Heat usually lose. Thunder coach Scott Brooks isn’t about to put a limit on Westbrook’s touches. He simply wants Westbrook to play a little smarter on offence. “We need Russell to score,” Brooks said Saturday. “We would not be in this position without Russell Westbrook. “I look at the quality of shots. Could Russell have taken two or three better shots? Absolutely. Going into tomorrow night’s game, hopefully that will be the case.”