LOS ANGELES: Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook is still chasing history after finishing just shy on Friday (Saturday in Manila) of his 42nd triple double of the NBA season.
Westbrook missed his first 12 shots and finished with eight assists to go with 23 points and 12 rebounds in a lopsided 120-99 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
It marked the second straight game Westbrook failed to break the record as he remains stuck on 41 triple-doubles with Oscar Robertson who did it with the Cincinnati Royals in 1961-62.
He can find solace in Friday’s assist total as his sixth helper of the game ensured he would average a triple-
double for the season, joining Hall of Famer Robertson as the only players to do so.
Westbrook’s chance at history was hampered by a miserable first half. He had five turnovers in the first quarter, including three in the first three minutes.
When it came down to crunch time late in the fourth quarter his teammates either missed shots or the Suns intentionally fouled, sending a message that the record wasn’t going to be broken in their building.
Westbrook made just six-of-25 shots from the field, his worst shooting night of the season. After the game, Westbrook went immediately to the Suns’ practice court where he worked out instead of meeting with reporters.
Westbrook came within one rebound of breaking the record Wednesday night in Memphis in a 103-100 win in which he contributed 45 points and 10 assists.
His triple-double quest began on opening week, when he posted 51 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against the Suns on October 28.
Until Friday, the Suns had put up little resistance as Westbrook averaged 41 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in three previous contests against Phoenix this season.
Elsewhere, Atlanta’s Tim Hardaway scored 22 points as the Hawks stunned the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers 114-100 despite sitting their starters.
The Hawks didn’t use any of their five starters against LeBron James’s Cavaliers who had their four game win streak snapped.
James finished with 27 points but it wasn’t enough for the Cavaliers as Mike Dunleavy came off the Atlanta bench to score 20 points and the depleted Hawks had a half dozen players in double figures.
“Obviously a bad performance,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “There’s really no other explanation.”
Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore, Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder all sat out for rest after a 123-116 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
Thabo Sefolosha (right groin strain) has been out and Atlanta didn’t want to play Millsap or Bazemore on consecutive nights after recent injury woes.
The win vaulted Atlanta past the Milwaukee Bucks for fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
James also had eight rebounds and seven assists for the Cavs, whose lead over the Boston Celtics for first place in the East is now at one game with three to play.
Irving’s knee flares up
Kyrie Irving added 18 points and Kevin Love contributed 15 points and 15 rebounds, but the Cavs made just nine of 36 three-point attempts, and trailed by 20 points with just under two minutes remaining.
Irving left the game in the third quarter and went to the locker room because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.
He returned in the fourth quarter, but took just one shot in the final period.
“Just after halftime my left knee just started kind of flaring up,” Irving said. “Yesterday just was a terrible day for me and my knee. But I did everything possible just to recover and just come in today and felt good. I’ll be all right.”
The two teams play again on Sunday in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points and the host Toronto Raptors held off the Miami Heat 96-94 after erasing a double-digit deficit to tie the game late.
The Heat, who are out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, dropped one game behind both the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers, who occupy the final two playoff berths.