Assessing success of Russell Westbrook ‘guarantee’ to shut down Rubio

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 23: Russell Westbrook
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 23: Russell Westbrook /

Russell Westbrook had some strong words coming into yesterday’s tilt with the Utah Jazz. Did he deliver on his guarantee to shut down Ricky Rubio?

Before yesterday’s game, Russell Westbrook made a bold statement concerning the hot-shooting Ricky Rubio. The uncharacteristic shooting streak that the Utah Jazz guard was on played a pivotal part in the two games prior to this one; Westbrook was clearly sick of it.

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It would be easy for fans to dismiss such a comment in many situations.

When it comes from a star player known for his intensity though, people take notice. Everyone had something to watch for in this one. ‘

The Westbeast came ready, but unfortunately for the OKC Thunder, so did Ricky Rubio.

There is no question that Russell Westbrook showed up to own his statement and played his best defense.

He was intense, picking Ricky Rubio up full-court and mean-mugging him in classic fashion. Rubio was braced for his aggression, and used it to his advantage. Maybe giving him a heads up was not the best idea.

Westbrook was very aggressive – as his fouls indicate

Westbrook picked up a couple of early fouls with Rubio playing on his heels, tipping over easily. An unfortunate third foul on Westbrook in the first half raised question as to whether or not he should have remained in the game. After a fourth foul (all on Rubio), his game officially changed.

Russ’ aggression officially ceased after the fourth personal. To his credit, Rubio did cool off, hitting just 4-12 from the floor. Rubio’s production fell closer in line with his season averages – he had 13 points, six boards, and eight assists, finishing with a plus 22 rating.

"“It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.” – Westbrook post-game on his play against Rubio"

Maybe not a bad idea, Russell. He slowed Rubio down to his normal game while the rest of the Utah Jazz ran over the OKC Thunder to go up 3-1 in the series. It also slowed Westbrook, putting him in foul trouble. We like the intensity, and the effort was there, but the Jazz got the best of the the Westbrook shut-down guarantee.

Next: Round 1 complete series hub article compilation

Check out Sinjin Snope’s post-grades for a full game recap.

All stats from ESPN