After Denver’s loss to the Wizards on Friday night, the Nuggets felt embarrassed. It had the makings of a trap game as the Wizards had just one win on the road all year while the Nuggets only lost twice at home.
The loss was so embarrassing that Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried left the arena before the media even had access to the locker room. The Nuggets knew they had to shift their focus to the present and forget what happened in the past. Despite a two-game losing streak, the Nuggets welcomed in the first place Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Nuggets got off to a hot start, but thanks to Corey Brewer’s 26 points off the bench, the Nuggets were able to hold off Kevin Durant and the Thunder’s comeback attempt in overtime.
The story of the game however wasn’t Brewer or even beating the reigning Western Conference champions. It was the introduction of a new enemy in Denver. Agent Zero (Not Gilbert Arenas), Russell Westbrook.
Four days earlier, Westbrook dropped 32 points on the Denver defense as he shot 60 percent from the field in Oklahoma City’s commanding 20-point victory. As an encore, Westbrook dropped 36 points at the Pepsi Center with nine assists as he, along with Durant, kept the Thunder in the game.
While his play alone was getting on the Nuggets nerves, what he did to the Nuggets mascot, Rocky, was the last straw.
With the game in the waning minutes of regulation, the teams were in the middle of a timeout. The Nuggets mascot, widely considered one of the best in the business, lined up for a half-court shot that he’s made time and time again. After breaking the huddle, Westbrook decided to break up Rocky’s shot attempt — twice.
Not only did Westbrook break up the shot, but he cost the fans a chance to get free queso. The game was outstanding and a real treat to fans that attended in Denver, but a chance at free queso. How can you top that?
Westbrook took the ball on the second attempt and chucked it into the stands before talking trash with fans. Westbrook went on to cement his status of bad guy as he hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
The Nuggets and their fans would get the last laugh however as the Nuggets would hold on for the win. But with Westbrook’s antics, and more importantly his game, the Nuggets have to solve him twice more this season. While Westbrook had the 36 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, he also had seven turnover. Something the Nuggets will have to force more of going forward.
Oh and as for Westbrook and his reputation in Denver?
“Russell made a lot of friends here,” Nuggets coach George Karl said to the Denver Post. “He’s a feisty guy who likes to create intensity. I like intensity. I’m sure the next time we’ll have some locker room talk.
“I saw him block the shot and then he threw the ball into the crowd. I know in the rule book it says you’re not allowed to throw the ball into the crowd.”