OKLAHOMA CITY â€” Basketball is a team game. It is not an individual sport. Five players make up a team. I donâ€™t dare blame the OKC Thunderâ€™s early exit from the playoffs on the fact that they lost Russell Westbrook to an injury in the first round against the Houston Rockets. But I will say that with him they stood a much better chance at advancing into the Western Conference Finals and probably even to the NBA Finals. Injuries are a part of every sport, however, and Westbrook just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
As good of a player that Kevin Durant is, he just couldnâ€™t negate the fact that Westbrook wasnâ€™t on the court anymore. He shot poorly for most of the series and his teammates didnâ€™t step up that way they should have. It seemed they were content to stand around and watch Durant try to take on the Grizzlies by himself. For a team that shot around 50 percent for the season, the Thunder just didnâ€™t shoot the ball well at all in this series, which ended Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena with the Grizzlies ending the Thunder's season with an 88-84 Game 5 victory. And that says as much about the Grizzliesâ€™ defense as it does that Westbrook was missing from the Thunder lineup.