LOS ANGELES: Russell Westbrook bagged his 30th triple double of the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder edged the Utah Jazz 109-106 on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Westbrook now stands third on the all-time list of players with the most triple-doubles in a single season, one adrift of Wilt Chamberlain who finished with 31 in the 1973-74 season.
The record remains Oscar Robertson’s 41 in 1961-62, a benchmark Westbrook could well threaten with the Thunder having 22 games left in the regular season.
On Tuesday the dynamic point guard exploded for 43 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a hard-fought win over Utah at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It was the eighth time Westbrook has scored 40-points while securing a triple double and the second time he has achieved the feat in the last two games.
“I try to put myself in a position to where I don’t panic, I’ve been there before,” said Westbrook, a pivotal figure in the closing stages for the Thunder.
“As a leader, it’s my job to make sure my team is calm as well. That’s what I tried to do, make sure everybody is level headed as well and concentrate on executing down the stretch.
“For many years, that was our problem, being able to execute and get the shot we wanted to. But I think that’s a part of my job to make sure we execute down the stretch.”
Westbrook received strong support from Doug McDermott, who finished with 16 points, while Enes Kanter rose from the bench to score 15 points with nine rebounds.
“They are making my job a lot easier,” Westbrook said of his teammates.
“They put teams in a tough spot because they have to help when we have great shooters around the perimeter. It’s tough for teams.”
Utah coach Quin Snyder could not disguise his admiration for the Thunder’s main man.
“He played great,” Snyder said of Westbrook. “That’s who he is. … He made some plays down the stretch. He does that.”
The win helped the Thunder improve to 35-25, putting them within two games of the Jazz in the Northwest Division.
Gordon Hayward topped the Jazz scoring with 19 points while Rodney Hood weighed in with 18 points. George Hill added 13 as Utah fell to 37-23.