Taj Gibson’s twenty-point outburst in game three is the first time in this series that a non-Westbrook player has scored twenty or more. Andre Roberson of all people came closest when he scored eighteen, but Taj became the first to have his point total be a two-digit number starting with the number 2.
There are two narratives here. Narrative one is that Westbrook hogs the ball to the point where none of his teammates can ever score a large amount of points. Narrative two is that Westbrook’s teammates are so timid when it comes to scoring that they’ll never score a large amount of points, even when Westbrook gets them easy looks all game. The bonus third narrative is that Billy Donovan, like Scott Brooks before him, refuses to force Westbrook to run an offense that will consistently generate good shots.
Taj Gibson just blew up all those narratives by scoring twenty points on a variety of jumpshots, dunks, and post moves (okay, just one post move). He’s like Kanter except not quite as tenacious on the glass and two inches shorter and actually has defensive fundamentals. Since it was so successful this game, look for the Thunder to try to establish Gibson early in game four, and then when it doesn’t work immediately Westbrook will just start chucking all the shots for the rest of the game and Gibson will only end up scoring eight points.