By now you’ve heard — Russell Westbrook sat out the entire fourth quarter of last night Thunder win. After a season that saw him named to his first All-Star team and his first All-NBA second team, it was a bit of a surprise to see Oklahoma City’s second-best player riding the pine in a must-win game.
Even more surprising, perhaps, is that the the Thunder thrived with their starter on the bench, turning a one-point deficit in to a six-point victory once Eric Maynor replaced Westbrook. It’s not a big deal. Westbrook is fine with it. The rest of the Thunder are fine with it. It was just a little surprising.
Just ask Dirk Nowitzki. From the AP:
“If you tell me they leave Westbrook out in the whole fourth quarter and we don’t get stops to win, that would have been tough,” Nowitzki said. “But you have to give Maynor credit. … Their reserves came out swinging and really took it to us.”
That’s the beauty of Scott Brooks’ strategy. Not only were the Thunder probably taken aback by Westbrook’s absence, so were the Mavericks. It’s called the element of surprise, and it’s very valuable. I’ve read “The Art of War,” so you can trust me on that one. It’s one of the chapters, basically. Vintage war maneuver.
Of course, once you’ve used it once, you lose the surprise factor. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised when Russell Westbrook plays the entire fourth quarter of the next game between these two teams. Well, that and the fact that he’s still really great at basketball. That’s another reason not to worry about this.