Russell Westbrook was simply outstanding in Tuesday night's Game 4 of the NBA Finals for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He picks up quite a bit of criticism when he's off, but the point guard was anything but off as he kept OKC in the game on the homecourt of the Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, people are only going to remember Westbrook's big mistake at the end of the game, not the fact that he was keeping Oklahoma City in the game almost single-handedly with a total of 43 points, seven rebounds, five assists and just three turnovers.
Considering Westbrook was also knocking down jump shots aplenty, it was more than anyone could reasonably expect from one of the biggest enigmas currently playing basketball. Except then he made a terrible mental mistake ... and that'll be the thing that's talked about when the pundits weigh in on Game 4.
For those that were unable to watch the excellent game, SB Nation's own Welcome To Loud City detailed it in-depth in their recap of the game that ended with the Thunder in a 3-1 hole.
Alternatively, you might assign a mental statistical error to the entire Thunder team, who failed to recognize and comprehend a key jump ball situation with only 16 seconds to go. OKC, down three points, had just gotten a huge stop by forcing a Dwyane Wade shot that did not hit the rim. The ball was tied up, and so the rules governing the situation stated that if Miami won the jump, they would have 5 seconds on the shot clock to get up a shot.
Unfortunately, OKC either did not understand this rule or failed to properly inform everyone on the team about what they had to do. When Miami won the tip and Mario Chalmers corralled the ball deep in the corner, Westbrook trapped him and only needed to prevent him from getting up a shot. However, Westbrook thought the shot clock had reset on the possession, unnecessarily fouled Chalmers, and Chalmers' two free throws all but ended the game. It was a brutal ending to Westbrook's night, a night when he almost single-handedly kept his team in the game by scoring 43 overall and 17 points in the fourth.
One could probably put as much blame on the coaching staff as on Westbrook, considering that it should have been communicated to him that a foul was not needed. It happened, though, and ruined an otherwise stellar game in the process.
For more on the Heat, head over to Peninsula Is Mightier and SB Nation Tampa Bay. For Thunder news and notes, visit Welcome To Loud City. And for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.