Mike D’Antoni Opens up on Russell Westbrook’s Availability for Game 4

Mike D'Antoni leaves door open for Rockets' Russell Westbrook to play Game 4

Getty Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets

Heading into the weekend, thanks in large part to The Athletic’s Shams Charania interview with Pat McAfree, there was chatter of Russell Westbrook making his much-awaited return to the Houston Rockets‘ lineup on Saturday night.

That clearly did not materialize. Instead, Oklahoma City pulled into a game of potentially tying up the series, thanks to 119-107 overtime victory. All while Westbrook missed his seventh game over the team’s last eight contest with a right quad strain.

Now with just a 2-1 lead, could the budding urgency of putting OKC away lead to the former league MVP returning to the court on Monday in time for Game 4? Head coach Mike D’Antonio appears at least open to the possibility.

Westbrook to Play Game 4?

“I don’t know yet,” D’Antoni said to the media of Westbrook’s Game 4 availability following Saturday’s loss. “I’m sure he’s going to test it. He’s working every day, getting a little bit better. So we’ll see. Today, I have no clue. His status didn’t change from start of the game, so we’ll see in a day or two.”

Eric Gordon has replaced Westbrook in Houston’s starting lineup since the start of playoffs. The one-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year’s production has been more than serviceable since taking over, scoring an average of 18 points per game. However, he’s been less than efficient, shooting 33.3% or fewer from the field in two of three games.

On the other hand, Westbrook’s 47.2% field goal percentage during the 2019-20 regular season marked a career-best for the 12-year veteran. His 27.2 ppg on the year also ranked seventh-most in the NBA.

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Did Paul George Take a Shot at James Harden?

Los Angeles Clipper star, Paul George, has looked all but a star when it comes to shooting the basketball over the past week or so. The six-time All-Star has shot an abysmal 26-of-72 from the field over his last four games. This includes an 18.8% field goal percentage in a victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, which he then followed up with an even more eye-popping interview.

“Like I said, I’m no James Harden, that’s not my knack, to just shoot the ball and score the ball,” George told Clippers beat writer Tomer Azarly. “I can, and I pride myself on being effective on both ends, but it’s gonna be nights like this where I can’t make shots and I can’t allow that to affect my game.”

Azarly was quick to downplay George’s comments, claiming “This wasn’t a shot at Harden, NBA Twitter I asked him how much he prides himself at doing the things other than scoring, and this was his response.”

Whether George’s comments were a shot at Harden are up for debate. However, maybe PG simply hasn’t caught wind that the old mantra of “James Harden doesn’t play defense” is long dead.

Harden finished the 2019-20 season as the league’s leader in both points scored (2,335) and steals (125), becoming only the third player in NBA history to do so. The two others? Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson.

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