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Wizards' Brooks recalls coaching Westbrook, wishes him success

Wizards' Brooks recalls coaching Westbrook, wishes him success

On Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks will encounter what for so many years was his opponent's undesirable problem. He will for the first time compete against — and not with — Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, a transcendent superstar who defies convention at his position and, lately, the statistical norms of NBA history.

Westbrook has been described before as a walking triple-double, but never before has that nickname been more appropriate. The five-time All-NBA selection has been on a historic tear so far this season, averaging a triple-double through 19 games. 

Westbrook is putting up 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.3 rebounds per contest. Those numbers aren't far off from the 1961-62 campaign of Oscar Roberston, who that year held a per game line of 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists to become the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season.

Westbrook has reached a new level statistically this year without having to share shot attempts with Kevin Durant, who moved on to join the Warriors in free agency. Westbrook is currently taking a career-high 23.7 shots per game. He leads the league in field goal attempts (451) and has 60 more than the next guy, Anthony Davis of the Pelicans.

This week, Brooks looked back at coaching Westbrook, including the early days of getting to know him before the Thunder made him the fourth overall pick in 2008.

"I was there when we brought him into his pre-draft workout. My first thought when we were working him through that workout was 'thank goodness I'm not an NBA point guard anymore' because there was no way I can stay in front of this guy. He was 19 years old and played nothing but two-guard in college at UCLA… but he averaged 15, 5 and 5 and that's not easy to do. Only a handful of guys, rookie point guards, were able to do that," Brooks recalled.

[RELATED: Scott Brooks embraces his return to Oklahoma City]

It was clear early in his career that Westbrook was not only a special athlete, a force of nature the league had not seen before at the point guard position, but that he was unusually versatile. He could rebound exceptionally well for his position, which has allowed him to become such a triple-double machine.

"The rebounding numbers that he's putting up now, I didn't anticipate that he would be able to average over 10, but he averaged five. He's been the best rebounding point guard in the league for a long time," Brooks said. "Russell is averaging a triple-double in nearly a quarter of the season. Nobody thought that there would be another with Oscar Robertson-type numbers in this league."

Brooks and Westbrook went through a lot with each other. They made the NBA Finals once and the Western Conference Finals five different times. Brooks was fired by the Thunder following the 2014-15 season and is now on the other side, but he has no ill-will towards his former point guard.

"I'm happy that he's successful. He took a lot of criticism, well we took a lot of criticism but some was probably deserving, but most wasn't. Give him all the credit. He's worked his butt off to be the player that he is and he's deserving what he's getting right now," Brooks said.

[RELATED: Gregg Popovich on consulting with Brooks]

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Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards vs. Pacers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers host Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre and the Washington Wizards on Monday night as they hope to move up in the everchanging ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

With the possibility of John Wall not playing, this game will be a big moment for the rest of the Wiziards players to step up and show the city what they can do. The Pacers, on the other hand, have been playing exceptionally well in their past 6 games.

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington for pregame, postgame and live game coverage of Wizards at Raptors.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time…

WIZARDS at PACERS HOW TO WATCH:

What: Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers, 2018 NBA Regular Season, Game 27

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

When: Monday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards-Pacers will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can stream Wizards vs. Pacers live on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and the MyTeams by NBC Sports App. After the game tonight, Wizards Postgame Live and Wizards Outsiders are streaming exclusively on the MyTeams app. Download MyTeams now for full postgame coverage and 24/7 Wizards news.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at PACERS TV SCHEDULE:

06:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
06:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE) 
07:00 PM: NBA: Wizards @ Indiana Pacers (LIVE)
09:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders 

WIZARDS at PACERS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (out, lumbar microdisectomy procedure)

Pacers: Victor Oladipo (out, sore right knee)

WIZARDS at PACERS SERIES HISTORY: 

Number of all-time Meetings: 174 games (6 playoff games)

Regular Season Record: Pacers lead series, 96-78

Playoff Record: Pacers lead series 4-2

Last Meeting: Wizards beat Pacers 109-102 on 3/17/2018

Last 10: Wizards 6-4

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John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

John Wall had the worst game of his career against the Cavs

The problem with John Wall on Saturday night in the Wizards' blowout loss to the Cavs depended somewhat on whom was asked. Either that, or it was all of the above.

Head coach Scott Brooks indicated to reporters in Cleveland that Wall was sick. Bradley Beal referenced personal issues the team would prefer to keep in-house. Wall suggested he was hampered by a nagging left heel injury. 

Wall's explanation certainly passed the eye test. He clearly didn't have his trademark burst up and down the floor. Plus, he has been icing his left foot after recent games.

Add it all up and it was enough to produce the worst stat line of Wall's nine-year NBA career. Never before had he been held without a field goal and not once had he scored just one point in a game.

Wall runs the Wizards' offense, so naturally, his lethargic play set a sleepy tone. The Wizards dragged their feet, got shoved around by Tristan Thompson and went down by as many as 29. A reminder that this was against the Cavs, a 6-20 team with the worst defensive rating in the league.

Wall went on to tell the Washington Post that the pain in his heel is bad enough that he can't yet commit to playing on Monday in the Wizards' next game. 

When Wall is playing through injuries, he will often go out of his way to downplay them. His admission of the heel injury and how much it has hurt him is unusual and indicates the severity.

Wall has been dealing with several minor leg injuries this season. On top of the heel issue, he played through a thigh bruise earlier this year. But it had yet to be this bad and there may be a reason for that.

Wall returned for this game after being away for a few days to deal with a personal matter. Perhaps that time off made it tough for him to get loose or manage the injury like he usually does when under the watch of team doctors. 

That would make sense, given the last time he played, he played well. Wall had 18 points and 15 assists against the Knicks on Monday.

Many factors may have been at play. The result was a hobbled version of Wall, one who couldn't force enough separation to even get his shots off. Wall attempted only five field goals, the second-fewest of his career. Usually, even on his worst shooting nights, Wall can at least put up shots.

The pain and how it affected his game was clearly wearing on Wall. With just under two minutes to go in the first half, he drove into contact in the lane. After missing the layup, and not getting a foul call, he slapped the stanchion under the hoop before slowly turning to head back on defense.

When Wall is at peak powers, he plays with an unrelenting chip on his shoulder, flying to the rim like he's drawn by a magnetic force. He glides down the court, finishing with left-handed dunks and darts to open teammates on the perimeter. 

On Saturday, the swagger wasn't there. He hung his head, trotted timidly up and down the court and watched helplessly as rookie Collin Sexton and others drove past him.

Wall was far removed from his usual self against the Cavs. It would be hard to envision a scenario in which the Wizards could win with how he played.

At this point, it wouldn't be surprising if he missed Monday's game against the Pacers. The Wizards need him at or near 100 percent and he wasn't close enough against the Cavs.

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