Russell Westbrook has what it takes to be like Mike.
For one night, anyway.
The star point guard tallied 40 points, five rebounds, 10 assists and five steals in the Oklahoma City Thunder's Game 4 victory over the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night. In doing so, he pitted himself alongside the one and only Michael Jordan:
MJ has company. Last night, R. Westbrook joined His Airness as the only other player with 40 Pts, 10 Ast, 5 Reb, 5 Stl in a playoff game.— ESPN (@espn) May 28, 2014
His Airness first reached the 40-5-10-5 benchmarks over 25 years ago. On May 3, 1989, Jordan notched 44 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists and five steals in the Chicago Bulls' 101-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Here's a look at how their performances compare to one another:
Not too shabby, Russ. You too, MJ, but more so Westbrook, whose game is subjected to more public vitriol than yours ever was.
Indeed, Westbrook needed a night like this. Not exactly this—because this was insane—but he needed to serve up one of his trademark reminders, the ones that say "This is why the Thunder allow Westbrook to be Westbrook."
Until Game 4, he failed to top 43 percent shooting during the Western Conference Finals. This was the first time he converted 50 percent of his looks since Game 3 of the semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers. And with Oklahoma City trailing San Antonio 2-1, the team needed an explosive performance from its point guard.
Which is what the Thunder got.
Through 45 minutes of action, Westbrook was everywhere, doing everything, dominating both sides of the ball, beating the Spurs into submission.
Final tally last night: Russell Westbrook: 40 points, Spurs starting five: 39 points.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2014
Westbrook was here, there, everywhere, and particularly in the open court. Sprinting, twisting, dazzling, stopping on a dime, and dishing, the electrifying guard paced the Thunder's 105-92 victory over the Spurs in Game 4 of a Western Conference finals on Tuesday, a contest that they led by as many as 27 points.
There is no better way to describe Westbrook's Game 4. He was fiery, determined, unrelenting. Most of the contest saw him on the floor, accelerating, pushing the limits of his own stamina. There was no give in his performance, no sign that he was prepared to slow down.
"Coach told us he needed maximum effort from us tonight, and it starts with me at the point guard position," Westbrook said afterward, via ESPN's Royce Young. "And it's my job to play both sides of the ball. You know, if you want to win a championship, those are the things you have to do."
On Tuesday night, Westbrook did those things. All of them.
This is the best game Russell Westbrook has ever played.— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) May 28, 2014
Thanks to his fury, the Thunder knotted this series up at two games apiece and now head back to San Antonio, where they have an opportunity to take a 3-2 lead.
But the task at hand remains a tall one.
The Spurs lost at home just nine times all season. They've only dropped three games in a row once this year.
They've been on the receiving end of three consecutive playoff losses just twice since 2010.
Can the Thunder hand them their third straight loss in Game 5?
If Westbrook stays red-hot, they most certainly can.
Which team will win Game 5?
Will his sweltering play style carry over to Game 5?
That's the question.
"Just don't expect anyone to have a clue if he'll save or destroy the Thunder," Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes writes. "That's the beauty of Westbrook: You just never know."
At least we know what happens when the unpredictable Westbrook channels his inner Jordan: Oklahoma City wins.