NBA

Westbrook delights in match-winning play after mixed game in Clippers victory

By Sports Desk April 17, 2023

Russell Westbrook delighted in his match-winning play after a mixed Los Angeles Clippers turn during victory against the Phoenix Suns in the NBA playoffs.

The point guard shot only 3-for-19 during Sunday's 115-110 Game 1 victory in the first round, and was involved in a fan confrontation at half-time.

But eight assists and 11 rebounds, coupled with the clinching defensive block on Devin Booker, saw him still register a vital contribution to start the postseason.

Speaking afterwards, Westbrook spoke of his glee at being able to showcase his all-around skills, particularly in his efforts to close down Booker.

"My whole career, I [have] prided myself every season on doing everything," he said. "Whatever is needed of me to win the game, I'll do it.

"You [have] just got to make sure [Booker] sees you, make sure he knows that you're there. He's a hell of a shot-maker, one of the elite scorers. [You have to] try to make it difficult for him."

With Westbrook posting single-figures with ball in hand, it fell to Kawhi Leonard to lead the way for the Clippers with an excellent 38-point performance.

His turn drew plaudits from his team-mates, with Westbrook adding: "His patience [and] his awareness throughout the game was amazing.

"He's been like that for us since I've been here. We had his back on the defensive end. We'll make sure we find ways to keep making the game easy for him."

The Clippers face the Suns on the road at Footprint Center again on Tuesday, and could take a 2-0 record home to California ahead of Game 3 if they claim victory.

Related items

  • NBA: Brown scores 40 to give Celtics 2-0 lead in East finals NBA: Brown scores 40 to give Celtics 2-0 lead in East finals

    Jaylen Brown scored 10 of his career playoff high 40 points during a first-half surge and the Boston Celtics pulled away for a 126-110 victory over the Indiana Pacers to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night.

    After his 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left in regulation forced overtime in Game 1, Brown helped Boston turn a five-point deficit in the first quarter into a 15-point second-quarter lead.

    The Celtics led 42-27 after that 20-0 run and never relinquished the lead.

    Indiana missed nine straight shots and committed four turnovers during the drought that lasted more than six minutes. Brown had 10 points during the run and had 24 by halftime.

    Jayson Tatum and Derrick White each scored 23 points and Jrue Holiday had 15 with 10 assists for the top-seeded Celtics, who lost Game 2 in both of their previous series this postseason.

    The series shifts to Indiana for Game 3 on Saturday night.

    Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton had 10 points and eight assists before leaving in the third quarter with a sore left leg.

    Pascal Siakam led Indiana with 28 points and Andrew Nembhard added 16.

    The Pacers got as close as 68-66 on Siakam’s 3 with 7:55 left in the third quarter, but Derrick White and Tatum dunked and White made a 3 a minute later to give the Celtics a 75-68 advantage.

    Brown’s 3 with 4:32 to go in the third extended the lead to 80-71 and Indiana would get no closer.

  • Cavaliers fire Bickerstaff as coach Cavaliers fire Bickerstaff as coach

    The Cleveland Cavaliers won their first play-off series in six years earlier this month.

    That wasn't enough, however, for J.B. Bickerstaff to keep his job as the team's coach.

    The Cavaliers decided to dismiss Bickerstaff from his position on Thursday, according to a statement made by the team.

    Since taking over for John Beilein in 2020, Bickerstaff went 170-159 in five seasons with Cleveland and led the franchise to the play-offs each of the last two years.

     

    In 2023-24, Bickerstaff helped direct Cleveland to a 48-34 record and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference play-offs.

    The Cavs then beat the Orlando Magic in the first round for the franchise's first play-off series win since the team lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals. It also marked Cleveland's first trip to the conference semi-finals without LeBron James on the roster since 1992-93.

    The Cavs' season ended in the conference semis, where they lost to the NBA-best Boston Celtics in five games.

    Bickerstaff's team, however, was significantly undermanned with five-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell missing the final two games against the Celtics with a left calf strain and fellow All-Star Jarrett Allen missing the last eight play-off games due to a right rib contusion.

    "J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human-being," Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman said in a statement. "Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership. The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. We owe a ton of gratitude for everything J.B. has contributed to the Cavaliers and his engagement in the Cleveland community. We wish J.B., his wife Nikki and their three children the best in their future endeavours."

  • Finch bemoans Timberwolves' failure to see out win against Mavericks Finch bemoans Timberwolves' failure to see out win against Mavericks

    Chris Finch lamented the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lack of composure in their Western Conference finals Game 1 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks.

    The Timberwolves lost 108-105 on the road on Wednesday, failing to hold onto their lead in the final four minutes.

    Minnesota sank just 11 of 18 from the free-throw line and committed five turnovers in the final frame, allowing Dallas to complete a late turnaround. 

    Asked what the biggest problem was for his side in a tight contest, Finch said: "No composure.

    "We haven't really closed quarters very well, closed halves very well over the last handful of games.

    "It cost us a game in the Denver series. It certainly had an impact on this game tonight, too. We've got to be better in clutch moments."

    Mike Conley echoed his coach’s thoughts and believes the Timberwolves can use this as a learning curve.

    "I think we haven't been tested like this where we've had to trade basket to basket, late-game free throw situations or fouling situations, stuff that we have to be better at," Conley said.

    "But we'll learn from it. I think each game we've learned a lot about ourselves, a lot we can get better at. Obviously, it's going to be a long series, regardless of what happened tonight."

    Meanwhile, Luka Doncic starred for Dallas once again, scoring 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help them over the line to a Game 1 victory.

    The Slovenian admits that the Mavericks wanted to make a statement by winning at home.

    "We had to work really hard to get this one," said Doncic.

    "I think we're known for losing game ones, so we were trying to make a point. But it's only one and we have three more [wins] to go."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.