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NBA Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder Needs Much More From Russell Westbrook

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook can’t have breakdowns like he did Christmas day against the Miami Heat if the Oklahoma City Thunder wants to pose a threat to the NBA championship.

Based on what they saw Tuesday, many NBA fans wouldn’t be surprised if it would be another Miami Heat-Oklahoma City Thunder match up in the 2013 finals.

But if the Thunder are to ever snap a six-game losing streak to the Heat, Westbrook needs to deliver the goods in a far more effective way than he did in Tuesday’s 103-97 loss to the defending world champions.

Westbrook was 5-of-19 from the floor and 1-of-4 in 3-point shooting but also netted 10-of-12 from the free throw line to get his numbers to 21 points.

With seven seconds to play and the Thunder down 100-97, Westbrook rebounded Kevin Durant’s missed 3-pointer and tried one himself but missed. Insisting he was fouled, Westbrook slammed the scorer’s table and drew the technical foul. Not a smart idea but the game was all but lost.

But the Thunder do get credit for giving themselves a chance to win at the end.

“We never quit,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks has said on one occasion this season. “That is one of our trademarks. We always play hard until the end. There are a lot of games where we don’t play well, but there are very few we don’t play hard.”

Westbrook needs to keep finding his groove and stay there. Shooting 5-of-19 doesn’t help your team win a ballgame, or a world title from that standpoint.

Another chance will come for Westbrook. He needs to deliver next time.