The triple double streak for Russell Westbrook continues with his fourth in a row in a 123-118 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder ahead of the chasing pack in the race for the final spot in the NBA playoffs.
Maybe he needed some recalibration. Despite his efforts, on Westbrook’s last two games the Thunder lost. He took one game off to take care of the injury and came back after a win over the Lakers. The Thunder didn’t look extremely good or efficient against the 76ers, but it takes a lot these days to lose to the never ending tanking project Sam Hinkie is running there, with no one having any clue about when it’s going to end.
Westbrook scored 49 points, the most for a player with a triple double since Larry Bird scored the same amount in 1992. Besides the points, Westbrook added 16 rebounds and 10 assists. As usual when he’s on the floor, he did pretty much everything for the Thunder, playing in 42 minutes although things went better for him and his teammates when the bench unit was on. Other than Westbrook, the rest of the starting lineup had 12 points and 13 rebounds combined.
The perimeter players off the bench did pretty well. Dion Waiters has been thriving since Reggie Jackson has left, scoring 20 points. D.J. Augustin added 17 and Anthony Morrow finished with 11 points. Despite the complete disarray the Thunder’s offense is in for most of the game, it’s hard not to get excited from the product they put on the floor when they get hot. They scored 37 points on the fast break, taking advantage of the 17 turnovers by the Sixers.
The Thunder aren’t necessarily better with Westbrook trying to lay his hands on every available possession and rebound, but they’re obviously better with him. As we’ve said before – without Durant, if the price they have to pay for having Westbrook on the floor is seeing him being selfish and act like he’s alone out there on too many occasions, it’s just a pill they have to swallow considering how bad things might get in the long run without both him and Durant.
The biggest compliment to NBA players is to get Michael Jordan comparisons. So Westbrook is the third player in NBA history with consecutive triple doubles that include at least 40 points, joining Michael Jordan and Pete Maravich who achieved it on back-to-back games as well. Westbrook is also the first player since Jordan in the 1988-1989 season with four consecutive triple doubles. Jordan’s streak ended at 5 back then. With Westbrook’s usage numbers, it’s not surprising to see him reach these heights.