Westbrook Smashes Records And Sixers Hopes For Upset
By Randy Renner
There are really no adequate words to describe what Thunder superstar point guard Russell Westbrook is doing these days.
Wednesday night, up against a fired up bunch of Philadelphia 76ers, Westbrook had another game for the ages. His fourth straight triple-double with a career-high 49 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and 10 assists. He also had three steals, a blocked shot and one of the more amazing coast-to-coast dunks you will ever see.
"Obviously it's a blessing," Westbrook said of his triple D. "But the most important part is winning."
And the Thunder did, holding off a surprisingly tough Philadelphia team 123-118 in overtime but, it was something the Thunder struggled with all night long, allowing the Sixers to stay in the game long past the point when they should have been warming up the team busses.
Westbrook has now had two consecutive triple-doubles in which he has scored at least 40 points, joining Michael Jordan and Pete Maravich as the only players ever to have done it.
It was also the seventh straight game he's had at least 20 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, something that hasn't happened since Jordan did it in the 1988-89 season.
And by the way, with his 49 points on Wednesday night, Russ tales over the scoring lead in the NBA at 27.02 points per game, former teammate James Harden falls tosecond at 26.92 points.
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks, who is seldom surprised any more by what Westbrook can do, was surprised by Wednesday's performance because it was the first game Russ had had to wear a protective mask on his face to make sure no more damage was done to his broken cheek bone.
"For those of you, including myself, who thought Russell might need a couple of games to get used to wearing a mask, we were wrong. He was all over the floor, a great performance."
As dominant as Westbrook was it was the Thunder bench that stepped up and turned things around, providing rallies in both halves.
"All five guys impacted the game and we needed it," Brooks said.
Westbrook was the only starter who played particularly well. Serge Ibaka fouled out with just two points on 1-for-5 shooting and two rebounds. Enes Kanter was better, eight points and five rebounds, but those numbers are about half what he'd averaged since being traded to OKC.
But bench players Dion Waiters (20 points), D.J. Augustin (17 points) and Anthony Morrow (11 points) provided both offensive fireworks and defensive stops.
But it was Westbrook the Sixers had no answer for. He scored 10 of the Thunder's 13 points in overtime as the sellout crowd loudly chanted M-V-P...M-V-P.
"The fans are great, like I've said many times we have the best fans in the world in all sports. They do a great job coming out and cheering us on even with the weather being bad, they still came out. Our job is to go out and play as hard as we can."
The Thunder had to fight all the way to the end and they did just that, following the lead of their dynamic point guard who just wouldn't give up.