James Harden On Russell Westbrook’s Mistakes In Game 6
James Harden got very honest about Russell Westbrook’s mistakes in their team’s 104-100 Game 6 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Houston Rockets were very much still in the game late in the fourth, when a costly turnover by Westbrook with 10 seconds remaining ultimately resulted in OKC getting the ball back and turning a two point lead into a four point advantage.
Rockets’ Russell Westbrook with the inexplicable turnover in closing seconds vs. Thunder leads to a Game 7 on Wednesday. Lakers get two more days of rest pic.twitter.com/mKcEcAJCl2
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 1, 2020
The best-of-seven series now sits at 3-3, with a deciding Game 7 set to take place on Wednesday. Houston advancing seemed like a foregone conclusion after the team’s blowout 114-80 victory over the Thunder in Game 5 on Saturday. Now it can go in either direction.
Following Game 6, Harden spoke honestly regarding Westbrook’s botched final play.
“That play was for Russ to attack the basket. He attacked the basket and he made the decision he felt was open,” he said.
As far as Harden is concerned, he and Westbrook deserve an equal share of blame for what transpired, since he recorded five turnovers in the outing as well.
“I had five so we’ve both got to be better with the basketball. Twelve turnovers between the two, if we cut those down in half we give ourselves better shot opportunities.”
That said, Westbrook, who had seven turnovers for the day, took full responsibility after the fact.
“That’s my fault, honestly,” he acknowledged.
“That’s easy. Last game I had zero and tonight I had seven. Simple as that.”
Westbrook had been out with a lingering quad injury for all but two games of the first round. It stands to reason that it would take him some time to get his rhythm back to what it was.
It is worth remembering that in the second half of the season, the 31-year-old was playing some of his best basketball with the Rockets.
“A lot of the mistakes we’ve made in close games have been on us,” he said on Tuesday night.
“The turnover on my part. It’s a fix we’ve gotta do to close the game out.”
Head coach Mike D’Antoni was asked how he thinks his team will respond going forward, and he offered a fairly typical Mike D’Antoni response. He noted that his team couldn’t possibly play much worse than they did in Game 6, and that they would be ready to go for Game 7.
“We’re going to respond,” he noted.
“We’ll clean up some things. We can’t play much worse.”
Houston turned the ball over 22 times on Tuesday night. That coupled with an epic performance from Chris Paul — 28 points, seven rebounds, three assists, zero turnovers — and a very solid showing from Danilo Gallinari — 25 points, five rebounds — goes a long way in explaining why Game 6 ultimately ended the way they did.
LeBron took a moment on Saturday night to reveal who he wishes was President. https://t.co/vPE3b4Dx6Z
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 30, 2020
If the Rockets can clean up the mental mistakes and get Westbrook back into the rhythm he was in for most of the second half of the regular season, a second-round berth seems all but inevitable. They are still the more talented and experienced ball club.
However, Oklahoma City has been proving people wrong all year. Counting them out completely, especially when Paul is playing the way he has been, is a big mistake.
The winner of Wednesday night’s game will go on to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.