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“Let’s be honest,” Donovan said after Thursday’s practice, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “When Russell has been off the floor for us, there’s been a differential.”
Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double to drive his team into the playoffs, is keeping OKC within reaching distance of the Houston Rockets, as the Thunder have performed an incomprehensible 38.9 points per 100 possessions better with Russ on the court in the series. In one 90-second stretch without Westbrook in the third quarter of Wednesday’s Game 2, Houston cut a 12-point lead down to three.
Forgoing rest to start the fourth, Westbrook jumped back in for all 12 minutes and shot 4-for-18 in the quarter – and it doesn’t bother Donovan at all.
“I have an enormous amount of trust and confidence after being with Russell this season for 82 games and seeing the ways he’s closed out games and different things that he’s done,” Donovan said. “I trust him when he’s got the ball in terms of making decisions.
“Sometimes, when the ball goes in the basket, people have a tendency to say, ‘Wow! This was just an unbelievable performance!’ And ‘Is he the best closer in the game?’ And then when they don’t go in, it’s gonna be, ‘Did he take too many shots?'”
Houston leads the series 2-0 heading into Friday’s Game 3, the first of two in Oklahoma City.