Russell Westbrook giveth and Russell Westbrook taketh away.
Over the years it’s been a lot more of the former and a lot less of the latter, yet a lot of good that did the Thunder Thursday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, where Westbrook looked victory in the face and just kept chucking the ball toward the basket, bad possession after bad possession.
Oklahoma City and its best player’s inability to manage success handed Boston a 101-95 victory.
It was the Celtics’ third win in five games to begin the season. It was the Thunder’s fourth loss in four.
Though he waited until the game had been over for more than an hour to finally speak to the media, Westbrook owned its ending.
“I take full responsibility,” he said.
The Thunder had led by 13 points early and 16 points at the half, yet a flurry of Celtic 3-pointers conspired to send Oklahoma City into the fourth quarter trailing 74-73.
Boston missed all 11 of its first half 3-point attempts, yet hit 11 of 22 after the break.
The Celtics were still up a point, 78-77, when when the first of two terrific things happened for the Thunder.
One, Patrick Patterson, who had struggled horribly to put the ball in the basket until that very moment, scored seven points over OKC’s next three possessions: an in-traffic layup, a 3-pointer and a 13-foot fade-away the shot clock forced him to initiate.
Each basket gave the Thunder back the lead.
Then, after the two teams traded mostly-empty possessions, Westbrook found Alex Abrines open for back-to-back 3-pointers that appeared to be daggers in Boston’s heart.
After Paul George added two free throws, the Thunder led 94-85 with 4:14 remaining.
Then it all went wrong.
Oklahoma City scored exactly one point the rest of the game, a single free-throw from Steven Adams with 80 seconds remaining.
Seven times over that span the possession ended with Westbrook: a missed 19-footer, a turnover and foul that led to two Boston free throws, a missed 20-footer, a missed seven footer, a missed 25-footer, a missed 28-footer and another turnover.
The 28-footer came 2.2 seconds after a Marcus Morris 3 put the Celtics up 98-95.
“That’s on me … I’ve got to do a better job in making sure that we close the game,” Westbrook said.
Once again, OKC did not shoot well, finishing 39.4 percent (37 of 94) from the field, 25 percent (7 of 28) from 3-point land and 56 percent (14 of 25) from the free-throw line.
Boston wasn’t a whole lot better, canning 38.4 percent (33 of 86) from the floor, but made the difference up from 3-point land and the free-throw line, where it made 24 of 33.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan tried to take the heat off his point guard.
"We didn't shoot the ball particularly well coming down the stretch," he said. "I thought we had some decent looks but we didn't do it."
Paul George finished with 22 points to lead the Thunder, yet made just 7 of 21 shots. Westbrook finished with 13 points, but made just 5 of 20.
Adams added 12 points and Jerami Grant and Dennis Schroder both finished with 10.
Jason Tatum led the Celtics with 24 points. Morris finished with 21 and 10 rebounds. Al Horford added 19 points and nine rebounds.
“I think we’re fine,” George said of the first 0-4 mark in OKC franchise history.
He also reminded that it’s a long season.
“Seventy-eight more,” he said. “It’s one game a time. Tomorrow we’re going to bury this game.”
With about 4 minutes remaining, it was the Celtics who appeared to be buried.