Everything has worked out for Houston Rockets superstar Russell Westbrook this season when he stopped taking threes and started bulldozing his way to the rim more often. Since then, the Rockets’ point guard has been having an impressive but relatively quiet season, pouring in 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game. Rookie of the Year contender Ja Morant took notice, however. The Grizzlies rookie said that he feels Westbrook is still “highly disrespected,” and that people take him for granted per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“I mean, he averaged a triple-double for the last three or four years and I’m pretty sure they see what he’s doing this year, but it’s still the same thing.”
Morant further praised the 11-year player on how he still “handles his business” nevertheless. Westbrook, though not disagreeing, merely brushed off the perceived cause for concern. The nine-time All-Star appreciated Morant’s admiration but said that for him, all that matters is whether he’s satisfied with himself.
On Wednesday night’s game, Westbrook bolstered his claim while Houston continued their quest to skyrocket to a higher seed. With a 140-112 rout of Morant and the Grizzlies, the team is now one game away from the third-seeded Los Angeles Clippers.
The 2016-17 MVP posted an almost triple-double in the matchup with 33 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists with an efficient 15-of-24 from the field. Fellow former MVP and Rockets backcourt mate James Harden also dropped 30 points and 7 rebounds. Both now lead a novel, truly small-ball lineup consisting of the undersized P.J. Tucker in the center position.
Contrary to detractors’ predictions, the unusual strategy by the Rockets has now garnered them five straight wins. They will continue to extend the streak when they visit the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.