- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DALLAS (AP) - After his All-Star point guard struggled with his shot in his Western Conference finals debut, Kevin Durant provided Russell Westbrook with a quick vote of confidence.

“I could bet the whole house that Russell Westbrook won’t go 3 for 15 again,” said Durant, the league’s scoring champion. “You can quote me on that.”

Westbrook missed 12 of his 15 shots from the field in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 121-112 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 on Tuesday night, following an exceptional performance in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals with an uneven outing in the opener.

Westbrook scored 14 of his 20 points from the foul line and was unable to muster the kind of all-around production that turned him into an All-Star this season.


He had only three assists _ his least this postseason _ and three rebounds, just two days after he had the fifth Game 7 triple-double in NBA history. That performance put his name in the record books with the likes of Jerry West, Larry Bird, James Worthy and Scottie Pippen.

“It’s not about me or what I was doing,” Westbrook said. “It’s about our team, and we’ve got to continue to play.”

Game 2 is Thursday night in Dallas.

The 22-year-old speedster seemed to have a distinct advantage on 38-year-old counterpart Jason Kidd coming into the series, but the Mavericks switched DeShawn Stevenson onto him at the start and largely kept Westbrook ineffective throughout.

Especially when compared to his previous game, when he snagged 10 rebounds _ including six on the offensive end to create extra possessions _ and dished out 14 assists, his most since November.

“It’s a different team,” Westbrook said. “We definitely tried to play with the same intensity, but the style of play is a little different. We’ve got to adjust.”

Westbrook also had four turnovers, and the Thunder fell to 0-3 in the playoffs when he has more giveaways than assists.

When asked what the Mavs were doing to stop him, Westbrook responded: “Nothing. I just missed shots.”

Westbrook made only one of his first 11 shots, and that came when he had a steal and a runout for an uncontested right-handed jam in the first quarter.

This game wasn’t like earlier ones in the playoffs that brought sharp criticism when Westbrook would settle for frequent jumpers and took more shots than Durant instead of passing first.

He often got into the lane, but couldn’t finish or produce much offense for his teammates.

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