Westbrook’s Thunder topple Cavs

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Russell Westbrook
AFP PHOTO

LOS ANGELES: The relentless Russell Westbrook produced his 26th triple-double of the season Thursday (Friday in Manila) to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 118-109 triumph over the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Westbrook poured in 29 points with 11 assists and 12 rebounds. Victor Oladipo added 23 points and seven rebounds and center Steven Adams of New Zealand added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City, who improved to 31-23.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 28 points. LeBron James chipped in 18 to go with seven assists but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Irving’s layup tied it at 99-99 with less than six minutes remaining, but two Westbrook baskets put Oklahoma City up 103-99 with 4:59 to play.

Irving answered with a driving layup, but after a Westbrook jump shot, Thunder reserve Jerami Grant blocked a shot at the other end. Westbrook sank another jumper to stretch Oklahoma City’s lead to 107-101 with 3:42 remaining.

James missed a fadeaway jumper before Westbrook fed Adams for an easy basket. After another block, Westbrook had the ball again, dishing to Oladipo for a layup that gave Westbrook his 10th assist and clinched his triple-double.

Westbrook matched the third-highest total for triple-doubles in a season. Oscar Robertson collected 26 in 1960-61 and 1963-64.

Only Robertson, with 41 in 1961-62, and Wilt Chamberlain, with 31 in 1967-68, have posted more in a campaign.

The Cavs suffered just their second defeat in their last eight games.

After coach Tyronn Lue said James, Irving and Kevin Love might all sit out to rest, all three stars played, with Lue saying all told him they were feeling “pretty good.”

After knocking off the reigning champions and Eastern Conference leaders, the Thunder next host the Western Conference leaders Golden State.

That game on Saturday will be Kevin Durant’s first return to Oklahoma City since he forsook the Thunder for the Warriors as a free agent.

In Charlotte, James Harden scored 30 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out eight assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 107-95 victory over the Hornets.

The Rockets trailed by four at halftime. But they out-scored the Hornets 36-22 in the third and led by double digits for much of the final quarter.

Harden, who finished just two assists shy of his 15th triple-double of the season, connected on eight of 21 attempts from the field to help the injury depleted Rockets notch a third-straight victory.

They made 13 three-pointers, including seven in their third-quarter surge.

Patrick Beverley added 17 points. Montrezl Harrell scored 15, Ryan Anderson 14, and Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela scored 11 apiece.

The reeling Hornets endured their eighth defeat in nine games. They coughed up a season-worst 22 turnovers that were converted to 27 Houston points.

“The defense was better tonight, a lot better,” Harden said. “The communication, the awareness, just everything as a whole we were really good tonight. Especially in the second half. It allowed us to get easy transition points and open threes, and that helped our confidence.”

Sixers snap skid
Philadelphia guard T.J. McConnell scored the winning layup with 5.8 seconds remaining in the 76ers’ 112-111 triumph over the Magic in Orlando.

Rookie Dario Saric scored a career-high 24 points as the 76ers halted a five-game losing streak even as center Joel Embiid missed a ninth-straight game with a left knee bone bruise.

AFP

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