It seems Russell Westbrook isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon, pulling off another triple double while leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 108-104 win over the Toronto Raptors, playing in a gear and level that no one in the league has been able to match over the last month or so.
It’s not always good for the Thunder. With Westbrook doing so much, it sometimes becomes costly to his team, as we saw in their most recent loss to the Chicago Bulls. But Westbrook, the one man wrecking crew on a mission to win the MVP or simply show just how valuable he is, is no longer surrounded by controversy regarding the number of his shots and his partnership with Durant, who is still out by the way.
Now, the Thunder are completely committed to Westbrook, his performance and the kind of day he’s having. He carries the chariot forward at blinding speed like Tasmanian devil. If his teammates keeps up, it’s incredibly fun to watch. When he looks around and sees no one, it can result in some ugly misses or turnovers. On the Thunder’s good days, he has someone to back him up, which results in impressive assist numbers.
Westbrook scored 30 points and also matched his career high in assists with 17. He added 11 rebounds, four steals and also nine turnovers which would have meant some sort of quadruple double although not the kind you’re too proud of when you look back at your most impressive games. Westbrook, unlike the previous game, delivered in the clutch, including a long two to put the Thunder ahead by six points and pretty much kill off the game. He air-balled a similar shot in the loss to the Bulls.
Westbrook doing so well and the Raptors defense focusing on him helped Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter get some nice numbers for a change. Both big men scored 21 points. Kanter also grabbed 12 rebounds, while Ibaka added 5 blocks, as the Thunder shot 51.2% from the field and dominated the boards 49-33, including 13 offensive rebounds, 6 of them by Kanter. The Thunder also scored 52 points in the paint against the Raptors who are drifting further and further away from the second spot in the East.
While Westbrook handled the first Durant absence well, the most recent stint, since February, has taken him into a whole new stratosphere. From being the team’s MVP to possibly the league’s MVP, although triple doubles hide the fact that sometimes his style of play actually does more harm than good. He averaged 28.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists as the Thunder went 5-6 without Durant in the games Westbrook played in between October and January. Since February? He’s averaging 34.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 11.3 assists while the Thunder win seven of 10 games.
This doesn’t look like a championship team, not without Durant and frankly, from what we last saw from them, not with him either. But Westbrook is entertaining and performing at an intensity and level so high it rarely matters to the neutral viewer how the game ends for his team. It’s a one man show that is impossible to stop watching and although it says something about how bad of a coach Scott Brooks is on the offensive side of the ball, it just might be the only worthwhile option for the Thunder to use.