Nothing can stop Russell Westbrook – not Winter Storm Stella, and certainly not the Nets.
Despite heavy snow and severe winter weather throughout the day, Westbrook took the floor Tuesday night at Barclays Center and did what he’s done all year: everything. Westbrook recorded his 33rd triple double of the season, scoring 25 points, dishing out 19 assists and grabbing 12 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a 122-104 win over Brooklyn. It’s Westbrook’s third straight game with a triple-double. His 19 assists were three shy of his season high.
Westbrook secured his 10th rebound with 4:49 remaining in regulation to complete the triple-double. The Barclays crowd, which serenaded the Thunder point guard with MVP chants multiple times over the course of the night, erupted when Westbrook hauled in the missed Brook Lopez three-point attempt. Lopez led the Nets (12-54) with 25 points on 9 of 14 shooting, including 3 of 6 from downtown.
The Thunder (38-29) are now 27-6 this season when Westbrook compiles a triple-double, a .818 winning percentage.
“He’s a unique, unique player,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said of Westbrook before the game.
Westbrook has put together one of the most impressive campaigns in NBA history. Atkinson’s described it as “legendary.” Westbrook recorded his 32nd triple-double in Oklahoma City’s win over the Jazz on Saturday, moving past Wilt Chamberlain into second all-time for triple-doubles in a single season. Only Oscar Robertson recorded more in a season – 41 in 1961-62, when The Big O averaged a triple-double.
Robertson remains the only player to complete that feat. But Westbrook is on pace to become to second. He entered Tuesday night’s matchup with the Nets averaging 31.9 points, 10.1 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game.
“Where he’s really stepped it up is his passing. It’s gone to another level,” Atkinson said. “So (if) you want to throw five guys at him, he’s going to find the open guy. He’s just that smart and has that good of a grasp on the game.”
Atkinson pointed to Westbrook’s ferocious energy on a nightly basis as the most impressive part of 28-year-old’s 2016-17 season.
“The thing that always strikes you when you’re watching him is how competitive he is and the physical force that he plays with,” said Atkinson, a former point guard who played collegiately at Richmond and professionally abroad. “To play with that kind of aggressiveness, force, physicality from the point guard position, you don’t see that every night. You see a lot of finesse guys that are really good players, but he’s kind of redefined the position a little with how big he is and fast and strong.”
Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan has been most impressed with Westbrook’s leadership this season, as the team has dealt with the departure of Kevin Durant and an influx of young, inexperienced talent.
“He’s done a terrific job leadership-wise, and it’s been great for me as a coach to see him lead the way he has,” Donovan said before Tuesday’s game. “He’s always been a leader. But I think with the way the team is structured right now, a lot of people are looking to him for that leadership. He’s really had a lot of patience and he’s really gone out of his way to help guys.”
Published at Wed, 15 Mar 2017 02:10:25 +0000