Westbrook back on triple-double train
Los Angeles (AFP)
Russell Westbrook handed out a career-high 22 assists en route to the 50th triple-double of his NBA career, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 114-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Less than a week after his rare streak of seven straight triple-doubles ended last Sunday, Westbrook delivered another all-around gem -- produced an astonishing 26 points and 11 rebounds to go with his 22 assists in his 13th triple-double of the season.
It's only the fifth time since 1983 that a player had a triple-double and reach at least 20 points and 20 assists.
"I never know what may happen throughout games, good or bad," Westbrook said of the gaudy numbers.
"My job is to go out there and compete at a high level. I've been blessed to play this game and every night I leave it on the floor. "Sometimes some good things happen, sometimes some bad things happen. That's the nature of the game."
Thunder center Steven Adams added 19 points and six rebounds and Enes Kanter came off the bench to score 12 points as the Thunder ended a two-game skid and improved to 16-11.
Devon Booker paced the Suns with a game-high 31 points. But the Suns' total of 16 assists was six less than Westbrook passed around himself.
With Thunder shooting guard Victor Oladipo still nursing a wrist injury, Oklahoma City relied on a variety of players to score at the start. Four players had at least five points as Oklahoma City took a 30-20.
"My teammates did a great job of spacing and catching and finishing and making some shots," Westbrook said. "My job is to find those guys. The ball is in my hands a lot and it's my job to find those guys and make it easy for those guys to be successful."
The Thunder led 54-39 at halftime, having denied Phoenix a fastbreak point in the opening half.
"We got back in transition," Westbrook said. "They are a fast team. That's how they score a lot of their points. They get a lot of shots up in transition. I think tonight we did a great job of just getting back and loading up and make them score in the half-court."
Booker's hot hand in the third quarter, in which he scored 20 points, couldn't match Westbrook's impact as the Thunder guard delivered 17 points, five assists and three rebounds.
"He keeps putting up phenomenal numbers," Phoenix center Tyson Chandler said of Westbrook. "I think it really comes down to heart, passion and will.
"Every second he is coming full speed, he's giving 100 percent. He is putting his will over the game."
© 2016 AFP