Colin Cowherd reacts to Westbrook and Thunder’s gut-wrenching loss to the Boston Celtics

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Reflecting on Boston narrowly defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-99, Colin Cowherd defends his criticism of Russell Westbrook, noting that the former league MVP must be a more effective and responsible leader when it comes to closing out games. Is Russ to blame for OKC's loss, and what does this loss mean for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony moving forward?

COLIN COWHERD: I have always said, point guards in the NBA are quarterbacks. That's why when people say, oh Anthony Davis is going to take over the league. I always say, well, does he have his hands on the ball late? Is he controlling tempo? In the NFL, I overwhelmingly talk about quarterbacks. Why? Because they're 70 snaps a game for an offense, and they're the only guy that touches it every time. And I've said this. I'm very tough on quarterbacks, because they not only have the ball.

They call the plays. They control the tempo. They have the keys to winning games, especially late. Not a pass rusher. Not a safety. Not a Mike linebacker. Not a slot receiver. Not a left tackle. Quarterbacks should get the love, the money, and the criticism. Similar for point guards. OK. The tempo, there's more possessions ever in the NBA. I don't care about wings. I don't care about big. Bigs aren't even playing on the floor with three minutes left, because most of them can't hit a free throw outside of Karl Anthony Towns.

Point guards dictate tempo. And when games get late, two minutes, three minutes left, I'm going to blame you or give your love if you're a point guard. So let me set the table for you. Oklahoma City played Boston last night. Gordon Heyward's been out for the year, and Kyrie Irving was out. This is a lay up, right, for OKC. OK, it's a layup. They should have won the game. But they are on the road. Brad Stevens is good, blah, blah, blah. Boston plays defense. Oklahoma City is up 95-92, and they have the ball.

So they're up three, they have the ball. There's a minute left. They have the MVP, Russell Westbrook's their quarterback slash point guard. So now think about this. You've got the ball. All you got to do, waste some clock, drive, get fouled, take a good shot. What does he do here? Never passes. And what is the one thing he shouldn't do. Jack a deep three. Now he gets saved by a foul on the Celtics. So Steven Adams hits one free throw, but that one point's the difference.

If you would've asked Boston what they wanted Westbrook to do there, it would have been, oh shoot a lousy three. Russell Westbrook is the lowest rated three point shooter in the league. Here's what Westbrook does really well, drive. You can stop him. Get fouled often, and hit free throws. So here is a 10 year starting quarterback slash point guard. There's a minute left. You lead by three. You don't even have to be a basketball savant to figure out, drive, get fouled, or settle for a really, really good shot with one or two or three seconds on the clock. No.

Never passes. Takes the lowest percentage shot currently in the NBA. The lowest percentage shot in the NBA right now is a Russell Westbrook 3. That's the lowest. Not a free throw, not a jumper. The lowest rated shot in the NBA right now is Russell Westbrook three, and he takes a long three with a guy on him. That's why I criticize Westbrook. 10 years in the league. You can blame Melo for this loss because he missed free throws.

By the way, Steven Adams missed one. Westbrook missed one. The Melo free throw should have never mattered. If Westbrook drives and gets fouled, which he is prone to do, he is a career 80% free throw shooter. Game over. Minute left, OKC by 5 because Boston came down and missed their next shot. What is playoff basketball? It's not running and gunning. It's not dunks. It is slow down, half court situational basketball. That's why Brad Stevens is a really valuable coach, because he's a great half court offensive coach.

Last night without Hayward, without Kyrie Irving, you've got the MVP Melo, Paul George, Steven Adams, three point lead. A minute left, that is what you settle for. Go ahead, blame Melo. But I'm not going to blame the wide receiver for a loss with a minute left in the football game. That is on the quarterback, and that is exactly what drives me crazy. The announcers, it should be noted, the announcers were critical of him.

I mean, you got to give the announcers credit. They spotted it too.

- Yeah. Adams bailed out that tough shot by Russell Westbrook there with [INAUDIBLE].

- It was a long one.

- Well, that's where they got to be better right there, especially from Russ, your point guard. Especially one minute left to go. Get to the free throw line at least. Don't settle for that long shot.

COLIN COWHERD: That was settling. That's why I'm tough on Westbrook. That's it. That's the moment. The difference between your Matt Ryan's and your Brady's are those minute left situations. The difference between winning and losing playoff games, situational basketball. Dude you've been in the league 10 years. You've got to be better than that.