DeRozan’s 24 minutes were the most for any East player as Brad Stevens employed a democratic rotation. On a night dominated by 3s and dunks, DeRozan was an exception, using his midrange game. He also salvaged a play before the halftime buzzer in which Irving and James both passed up dunks.
Time heals all wounds, but the wound is still fresh and was reopened only two weeks ago in OKC. Durant claimed he might talk to Westbrook over the weekend if it happened “organically,” and Westbrook has never said he was opposed to it, saying when he signed his extension that “eventually” they’ll talk. There’s too much equity there to believe it won’t ever happen. How and why are the bigger questions. Maybe it’s at USA Basketball, where Gregg Popovich will take over — a person both players immensely respect — and a close-quarters team environment that can’t support tension. Maybe this weekend helped thaw the ice some.
The “how” from Westbrook’s viewpoint was summarized the morning of Durant’s return game to Oklahoma City. Asked about a future reconciliation, he said, “It’s not really up to me, honestly.” It’s that simple. Westbrook is the one that got dumped. He got left. He’s the one who got only a brief text shortly after Durant’s decision was announced on The Players’ Tribune. He’s a fiercely loyal person, keeping his circle of trust small and tight. He has spent his weekend unbothered, hanging and chatting with a number of players — Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, among others — because he sees himself as the bystander.