Russell Westbrook on opposing D: 'I can pretty much do what I want'

HOUSTON -- Russell Westbrook began his news conference Tuesday afternoon by doing what Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley makes it very hard to do during games -- clearing space.

"We going to keep everybody back," Westbrook said, while dribbling a basketball into a crowd of reporters after the Thunder practiced at the University of Houston. "Y'all keep your distance."

That's nothing new. TheOklahoma City Thunderstar generally sets boundaries on his personal space in media scrums.

And when the subject of Beverley, who has made a name for himself by hounding opposing point guards like Westbrook on defense, came up, Westbrook wasn't giving back any of those inches.

"I never worry about what other guys are doing; it doesn't bother me. I've seen it all already," Westbrook said, when asked whether he'd broken down film of how Beverley defended him in Game 1.

Westbrook played just 13 minutes in the second half of what turned into a blowout loss, so his 22 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and nine turnovers are a bit harder to compare to his sensational regular season.

In the times Beverley was matched up on him, Westbrook had eight points on 3-for-9 shooting and two turnovers. Their history, of course, is a lot longer than that. In 2013, Beverley crashed into Westbrook along the sideline in a first-round playoff game and effectively ended his and the Thunder's season. The relationship has been frosty ever since.

Asked Tuesday whether he gets up for his games when he'll be matched up against Beverley, who is likely to make an all-defensive team this season, Westbrook shrugged and questioned the premise of the question.

"My opinion on all-defensive team is different than you guys," he said ahead of Wednesday's Game 2. "I really don't know what to say to that. You can check and see what criteria goes to all-defense. I really don't know what the criteria is considered for all-defense.

"He's a good defender for their team, but I don't worry about nobody, how they're defending. I can pretty much do what I want to do."

Asked whether he had criteria for all-defense that were different from the media's, Westbrook batted the question back again.

"I don't know. I don't have a criteria. I don't make the all-defensive team. Y'all do," he said.

When asked whether teammate Andre Roberson should be in the conversation for the all-defensive team, Westbrook said plainly, "Yep."

Another thing Westbrook was very clear about on Tuesday was his belief his comments from Sunday about friendship had been misinterpreted.

Much had been made about his friendship with Rockets star James Harden coming into the series. Westbrook said that wouldn't factor into anything on the court because when he's on the court, his only friend is the basketball.

Tuesday, while dribbling said basketball, Westbrook said:

"I think y'all misunderstood what I was saying. Y'all don't understand the importance of what I was saying. Y'all think it's a joke or some s---," Westbrook said. "I think y'all think, 'Oh, you only have one friend. The basketball is your only friend.'

"All these guys are my brothers. My teammates are my brothers. James is a friend of mine. There's other friends that I have in the league. But, at the same time, when I get on the floor this is the most important thing for me and how I do what I need to do. So it's actually not a joke. It's some real s---. Just to make that known."
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