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NBA

Westbrook is having ups and downs

November 20, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Dillman is a Times staff writer.

OKLAHOMA CITY — It's hard to make the Clippers' Mike Taylor look slow -- or maybe less fast -- but fellow rookie Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled it off early in the second quarter Wednesday night.

His fastbreak, with Taylor in pursuit, culminated with a spectacular dunk to give Oklahoma City an eight-point lead.

Rookie highs are often followed by rookie lows.

Thunder Coach P.J. Carlesimo was nothing but prescient in talking about his first-round draft pick (fourth overall) this year.

"I think he's played at times like one of the best young guards in the league, and at other times, he's played like a rookie," Carlesimo said before the game. "Both of which he is."

The upside showed in a first half in which he was three for six from the field, and the downside came when Westbrook scored only two more points, going one for five. He finished with 10 points, four assists and three turnovers.

Westbrook, of course, was at UCLA at this time last year, not quite the same as preparing for the likes of Baron Davis and learning the craft of playing point guard at the hand of Earl Watson.

Oklahoma City has lost 11 games and has one victory. The Bruins lost four games last season.

"As long as we keep playing and keeping working, we'll win some games," Westbrook said. "I'm trying to learn from my mistakes."

He spoke about the transition from Westwood to Oklahoma City.

"Fortunately, you don't have class, can sleep in a little bit here and there when you're not traveling," he said. "I miss the whole college life, but at the same time, this is what I've grown up to do."

Carlesimo knows the decision-making at the position will get better and predicted Westbrook will have a short learning curve.

"His turnover ratio will be much better in the future than it is right now," Carlesimo said. "It's one to one, or close to that right now. Obviously, you can't do that. Some of his assists are spectacular. Some of his plays are spectacular.

"He kind of mirrors what we're saying about our team right now. We've had moments where we've played very, very well but unfortunately we've had a lot where we've played very very poorly. I'd settle for in between.

"Russell doesn't have to be spectacular. He just needs to be a little more consistent. That's asking a lot for a rookie."

--

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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