If any player in the NBA can accurately be described as basketball cocaine, it's Russell Westbrook. When things go badly, like they did when he shot 9-of-26 in Game 3 against Memphis, he can make you regret that you ever even considered him a viable source of fun. But when things go right, like they did last night, he can make you feel like nothing else will ever make you feel this good, and all you want is more.
The performance that Westbrook put on last night offered a wonderful high. He spent the entire game bounding around the court like he had jet fuel for blood—"I think Russ played harder than all of us combined," admitted Chris Paul after the game—swiping at every ball that entered his air space, driving headlong into the lane, and believing that every available rebound was his to take. These are the things that Westbrook does every game, even the bad ones. They don't always work, but when they do, Westbrook ends up slapping a 31-10-10 on the board and turning the court into his own personal asylum.
Westbrook's night was neatly encapsulated by one sequence late in the third quarter (starting at 4:22 in the video above). With the Thunder starting to pull away and the energy in the arena rising, Westbrook cut himself loose and buried the Clippers. He began by blowing by Chris Paul at the three-point line and rocketing toward the rim for a dunk that was so violent and sudden that none of the Clipper bigs even had time to get in the frame for a proper posterization. After throwing a beautiful pass to a cutting Serge Ibaka for an easy dunk, Westbrook was finally ready to go full Westbrook.
A few possessions later, Kevin Durant launched a three that caromed high off the rim, spinning at a seemingly unreachable height. In came Westbrook, flying past the Clippers' front line and cocking his arm back like he was about to throw down a tomahawk dunk. He got just enough hand on the ball to tip it to an open space and corral it, at which point he found himself behind the three-point line with no defender near by. Here was a moment in which a normal point guard, one who is not just a collection of ever-twitching muscles, may have slowed things down, reset his offense, and looked to maintain control of the game. But Westbrook, without even a shred of hesitation, rose up and launched a three-pointer, and when it went in, he lost his goddamned mind.
Russell Westbrook is fucking crazy! I thought to myself while watching at home. Man, I hope he does that again and again and again. The high had taken its hold.