There’s nothing new about Kevin Durant scoring at an alarming rate (if your’e an opponent) or Russell Westbrook having a terrific all around game, but getting a triple double in under 21 minutes while the league’s leading scorer continues to drop 40-point games like there’s nothing to it make the Oklahoma City Thunder so dangerous as we get closer to the playoffs, even if these numbers were achieved against the Philadelphia 76ers.
There have been those who have suggested that numbers posted against the 76ers shouldn’t even count. They’ve lost 15 games in a row, which surprisingly doesn’t even come close to cracking the top 20 worst losing streaks in NBA history. But this team has been torn apart, on purpose, to make sure they have an excellent chance of getting a high pick in the draft. In short, the remaining players might have broken some negative NBA record if they had started the season with Turner and Hawes, and who knows, might still have it in them.
But the Thunder don’t really care who and what is in front of them. They’re on a mission to finish first in the West, while Durant has his own agenda on top of it – finishing on top of the scoring charts, winning the MVP, and swaying a few more people to his side in the discussion about the best player in the NBA.
And it’s easy when you have someone like Russell Westbrook playing by your side. Westbrook needed some time to bounce back from his long absence, and the first three games, including getting demolished by the Miami Heat at home, seemed to be a bit too much for him while the Thunder regrouped with their old-new point guard. However, despite the limited minutes, he’s been doing more than enough with what he’s getting.
Westbrook played just under 21 minutes and finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, making it the fastest triple double in almost 60 years, with the only one coming quicker being Syracuse’s Jim Tucker, who only logged 17 minutes on Feb. 20, 1955 when he got his.
Durant scored 42 points against the non-existent defense (and team) we’ve been seeing from the Philadelphia 76ers. He shot 14-of-20 from the field, added nine rebounds and now has 10 games with 40 points or more this season; twice as many as the next closest player in the NBA. He’s also one of only two players this season (James Harden included) to finish with 40 points in a game without even playing in the fourth quarter.
The Sixers aren’t really worth talking or writing about. It’s not the players’ fault they’ve been abandoned by their management. Tanking is here to stay, and according to Adam Silver, the new dictator of the league, it’s not even losing on purpose: It’s rebuilding, and on the way making sure season-ticket owners see the worst possible product it was able to assemble. Anyone denying this is a problem is either a liar or simply completely blind to the oblivious.
And the Thunder? It’s great having games like these. Westbrook angry at the world for no reason brings out the best of him, and a chance for Kevin Durant to score at will without getting T’d up by officials for his usual arguing. They’ll be tougher games along the way before this season ends, and it’s nice to have something of a break while picking up another win.