Westbrook triples-up again
OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook's recent play has been on par with some of the game's all-time greats.
The dynamic point guard had 21 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds to help the Thunder beat the Houston Rockets 111-107 on Tuesday night.
Westbrook has 15 triple-doubles this season and 34 in his career. It's the most triple-doubles by a player in a season since 1988-89, when Magic Johnson had 17 and Michael Jordan had 15. It was also Westbrook's sixth triple-double in March. According to STATS, it's the most by a player in a calendar month since Jordan had seven in April 1989.
"That's just a blessing," Westbrook said. "Especially getting mentioned with those guys. Those guys are Hall of Famers. My job is try to help us win games and try to win a championship."
It was his third triple-double in a row and fourth in his past five games. The Thunder improved to 15-0 this season when he gets a triple-double and 30-4 all-time.
"When he helps us rebound like that and passes the ball, it's good for our team," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "I think the thing is rebounds. When he rebounds like that, we're a better team. He can pass and he can score with the best of them. When he rebounds that way, it gives us a little something extra."
Durant scored 23 points and Dion Waiters added 17 to help the Thunder win their fifth straight.
James Harden had 24 points, a career-high 16 assists and seven reboundfor the Rockets. Dwight Howard had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Patrick Beverley added 16 points.
Houston led 99-97 when Westbrook took over. He found Steven Adams for a dunk on an inbounds pass, got a steal and a dunk, then made a long 2-point jumper to give the Thunder a 103-99 lead.
Harden's 3-pointer with 13.8 seconds to play cut Oklahoma City's lead to 108-107. Serge Ibaka made 1 of 2 free throws with 11.9 seconds left to give the Thunder a two-point lead. Harden then tried the get the ball down low to Howard, but Waiters stole it.
"It was the right read by both of our guys offensively, but it was a heck of a defensive play by Waiters to deflect the ball," Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
Westbrook made two free throws at the other end with 3.5 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
"We felt like we were in it the whole game," Howard said. "We had great opportunities to win. K.D. made some tough shots, Russ made some tough shots and they got some stops down the stretch. That won them the game."
Westbrook scored 14 points in the fourth quarter after struggling with his shot for most of the game.
"It's just read and react," Westbrook said. "I just try to find ways. In the first half, if guys are doubling and they're coming over, I try to find open guys and trust my teammates in making shots. Late in the game, some spots opened up, and that's when I attacked."
LAKERS 107, GRIZZLIES 100: At Los Angeles, Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points, Kobe Bryant added 20 and Los Angeles snapped a four-game losing streak. Bryant scored 12 points in the third quarter, but the superstar sat out the final 4:20. Brandon Bass got eight of his 18 points in the fourth while Los Angeles' younger players closed out an unlikely victory over the playoff-bound Grizzlies, who had won the clubs' first three meetings of the season.
HEAT 113, PELICANS 99: At New Orleans, Hassan Whiteside had 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots to lead Miami. Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic each scored 23 points for the Heat, who've won nine of 12 games to put Miami in position to grab a playoff seeding as high as third in the Eastern Conference. Jrue Holiday scored 24 for New Orleans, but missed 16 of his 23 shots.
HORNETS 105, NETS 100: At New York, Nicolas Batum scored 23 points to lead Charlotte. Jeremy Lin added 21 points, a night after scoring 29 in Charlotte's rally from 23 down to beat the San Antonio Spurs. Brook Lopez had 29 points, nine rebounds and a season-high six assists, and Sean Kilpatrick added a career-high 25 points for the Nets.