Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook was eliminated from the playoffs on Friday night with a wild shooting performance. He broke the record for most three-pointers attempted in a playoff game with 19.
Many have compared Westbrook to Kobe Bryant (including the Black Mamba himself) because both will try to take over the game and put up any shot in the process. But history shows the only player other than Westbrook who has had more than 40 attempts from the field in a postseason game since Michael Jordan (1993) was Allen Iverson (2001).
Bryant recorded 38 attempts against the San Antonio Spurs on May 5, 2003. He ended the game with 37 points and the Los Angeles Lakers lost by five points. The only other Laker who had more than 10 field goal attempts was Shaquille O’Neal.
Westbrook had 46 points on 43 field goal attempts during his final game of the season last night. The previous game, he had 45 points on 39 attempts in a comeback victory over the Utah Jazz. Both topped Bryant’s career-high for field goal attempts in the playoffs.
With that said, Westbrook didn’t break the record for most field goal attempts in a postseason game. Wilt Chamberlain (1962) and Rick Barry (1967) each took 48 attempts in a single playoff appearance. Joe Fulks (1948) and Elgin Baylor (1967) appear next in the record book, as each had 46 field goal attempts in a postseason match.
The Thunder point guard was, however, just one brick short of the record for most field goals missed during a playoff game. Several players share that distincion: Barry (1967), Jordan (1997), Kevin Durant (2016) and even Westbrook himself (2017) had all missed 26 field goals in a single postseason appearance.
To no surprise, the Thunder have historically struggled when just one player takes over. According to Tommy Beer, Oklahoma City is just 2-11 (.153) when he has taken more than 27 attempts during a playoff game.