Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry entered Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards playing historic basketball, and most fans expected a ton of fireworks involving Curry, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.
Instead, Curry fizzled out with one of his worst showings of the season, scoring just 18 points and going 2-of-14 from 3-point range to end his run of 11 straight games with at least 30 points. Naturally, it was Westbrook who embraced the challenge of taking point on the Curry assignment as the Wizards pulled off a 118-114 comeback victory to make it six wins in a row.
“Steph’s been on a hot streak, he’s been playing really well and I took the challenge to start the game to make sure he didn’t continue his streak on us tonight,” Westbrook said.
Russell Westbrook got plenty of help from a swarming Wizards defense that made life difficult on Curry, but it should be no surprise that he took it upon himself to be the leader in slowing down the two-time MVP by playing physical and using his athleticism to be a disruptive force.
Westbrook struggled offensively, but he racked up 20 rebounds (18 defensive) and three steals as part of his strong overall effort. Of course, he did notch a triple-double with 14 points and 10 assists.
Russell Westbrook’s defense has fallen off in recent years. He can be prone to lapses, gambling and ball-watching. Still, when he puts his mind to it and focuses in, he can be a terror on the defensive end. That was evident on Wednesday night against Curry, which showed that competitive fire and prideful nature of Westbrook:
“You know what? Definitely. I feel like I’m a player that can do it all. Defend, score; whatever it is that needs to be done,” he said.
“My job changes every night and I feel like I’m one of those players that if I need to defend at a high level, I can do that, too. If I need to score at a high level, I can do that. Pass, I can do that. Rebound, I can do that. You want me to coach? S—, I can do that, too. I just feel like I can do everything.”
Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry have had plenty of battles over the years. While Curry and the Warriors have gotten the last laugh more often than not, Westbrook has had his share of moments and will never back down from the fight.
That fight has been evident in recent weeks as the Wizards get themselves back in the playoff picture. As it stands now, Washington is the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference, which is that final play-in spot. If Westbrook and Co. continue to bring this mentality for the rest of the season, they’ll have a chance to make some noise.