Westbrook, Ibaka matchups troubling Rockets

Westbrook, Ibaka matchups troubling Rockets
April 23, 2013, 11:00 am
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A look at Game 1 reveals that the Rockets had trouble against Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka.

Of course, Kevin Durant, the league's second-leading scorer at 28.1 points a game, is always a dangerous threat. And even though Durant did average 26.3 points in three regular-season games against Houston, Chandler Parsons has proven effective at somewhat containing the former Longhorn.

More troubling was Westbrook's dominance over anybody at the point guard position and the same for Ibaka at the power forward position.

"That guy's electric and fast," Kevin McHale said, referring to Westbrook. "Man, he's a hell of an athlete. So we've got to get back and load when we're back, Then, we've got to do the best job we can to stay in front of him. I thought we gave in a couple of times, just turned sideways. He see you turn sideways, he's just playing downhill on you."

As for Ibaka, McHale said, "He played really well. Ibaka had a big game. He not only had a nice night shooting, he had some blocks, he had some rebounds. Really, the play that changed the game around: he chased down Carlos (Delfino) on a breakaway and they end up getting a cherry-pick two by Perkins on the other end. And we had a four-on-two breakout and he made a hell of a hustle play and got a block on that."

Westbrook finished with a near triple-double: 19 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds in just over 30 minutes. Ibaka had 17 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks in 27:22.

"Russell is as quick as anybody in the league and you can't ever take a possession off when you guard him," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He's an amazing athlete. He's very driven. He made a lay-up (Sunday) night, in front of our bench, that I gave (assistant coach) Maurice (Cheeks) a little elbow. I said, 'We didn't see that in the '80s.'

"He does things like that throughout the game that you see. You have to really take a step back because it's not often that it happens (around the league). He has as quick as a first step and an ability to finish with either hand above the rim, and a lot of players can't do that above the rim."