“I think Russell fell asleep.”
That’s what Nikola Jokic had to say after making a (controversial) game-winning assist to Gary Harris, who hit a game-winning three over the fingertips of Russell Westbrook.
Asleep? The internet wasn’t as kind.
The way many people (on social media) saw it, Westbrook — who had his third career 20/20 game and was one rebound shy of a another triple-double — was standing by himself, in front of the basket, because he was hoping to grab another rebound. He then noticed Harris was by himself at the three-point line and that’s when he made a last second effort to play defense — something Westbrook isn’t criticized enough for. Since he’s an athletic freak of nature, he recovered and almost blocked the game-winner that Harris said he knew was good and going in.
“Tough shot.” Westbrook said after the loss. “I made it back to the closeout. He made a tough shot. But it is what it is.”
The real crazy story of the game came a few seconds after all of the potential missed calls (travelling on Jokic; offensive foul on Wilson Chandler) and the tough shot by Harris. As Westbrook was leaving the court, an excited (and very stupid) Nuggets fan stepped onto to the court and screamed in his face. Westbrook gave the fan a light push and one of those looks he gives reporters when he’s asked a question he doesn’t like. Security and teammates, including Steven Adams (who had his ankles destroyed by Jamal Murray earlier in the game) rushed over.
During the TNT broadcast, Reggie Miller, who was in attendance for the Malice At The Palace, said the fan was “lucky he didn’t get knocked out.”
Here’s what Westbrook had to say about the encounter that I’m hoping doesn’t result in a fine or suspension.
“You’ve got to be able to protect the players. You play the game. And the fans enjoy the game, obviously, but they can’t come on the floor,” Westbrook said. “It’s totally unacceptable. So, they’ll look at it and figure out what’s the best thing to do. But to me, that’s just totally unacceptable.”