LOS ANGELES: Russell Westbrook secured his eighth triple-double of the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled over the New York Knicks on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) while Golden State marched to a 12th straight win.
Westbrook’s virtuoso display stole the show as the Thunder overpowered the Knicks 112-103 at Madison Square Garden to improve to 11-8.
It was Westbrook’s third straight triple-double and the 45th of his career, leaving the 28-year-old tied in sixth place with LeBron James on the all-time list.
Westbrook needed just 20 minutes to complete his latest masterclass, part of a haul that leaves him averaging triple-double numbers for the season.
The point guard finished with 27 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists, taking his season average to 30.9 points per game, 11.3 assists and 10.4 rebounds.
Only one player in NBA history — Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 — has ever gone an entire season averaging triple-double numbers.
Westbrook is on pace to equal Robertson’s record, albeit with only 19 games of the season gone.
Westbrook insists however that matching Robertson’s record is not on his agenda.
“My job is to go out and find the best way to win games. Right now, we won three straight and that is what’s most important to me,” he said.
“I don’t really care, honestly. I like to win and compete at a high level. I do the same thing every year. I’ve been playing the same way since I got in the league, so I just do the same thing, and grateful to be blessed and play the game I love.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan suggested Westbrook was the most complete player in the NBA.
‘Amazing what he’s doing’
“It’s amazing what he’s doing,” Donovan said of Westbrook. “There’s also a part of it that he’s probably the most unique player in the NBA because you’ve got great scorers, great assist guys, great rebounders. There are a lot of great players in this league. But he kind of touches it all in every facet of the game.
“The thing I’m encouraged by is when he does what he did tonight and we win. There’s certain times when a player gets crazy numbers, and his team loses. Winning is the most important thing to Russell. And he knows that his assists, his rebounds and his scoring, being efficient, helps our team win.”
Enes Kanter offered another offensive threat for the Thunder, rising from the bench to score 27 points and grab 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.
For the Knicks, Derrick Rose topped the scoring with 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Kristaps Porzingis added 21 points and Carmelo Anthony chipped in with 18 points.
Elsewhere Monday, Westbrook’s former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant helped Golden State complete a 12th consecutive victory with a 105-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Durant and Stephen Curry each finished with 25 points to steer the Dubs to a victory which saw last season’s NBA Finals runners-up improve to 16-2.
‘Double slap in the face’
Atlanta looked to have the Warriors rattled after edging into an 81-80 lead as the finals quarter got under way.
But two Andre Iguodala baskets, a Durant jumper and a Shaun Livingston layup gave the Warriors a pivotal 8-0 run that put them 88-81 ahead.
The Warriors were left thankful for some superb defensive work from Draymond Green down the stretch, pulling off two crucial blocks in the final minute, as they dug in for the win.
“That’s like a double slap in the face,” Green said of his two late blocks. “I like them.”
“That was amazing,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Green’s double defensive shift.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a sequence like that from one guy. Just an incredible defensive sequence.”
Green said it proved the Warriors remained a decent defensive unit even if their star-studded offensive line-up invariably grabbed the headlines.
“The world says we traded our defense away when we got KD (Kevin Durant),” Green said. “I disagree. That (bothers) me. I take that personally.”