NBA: Russell Westbrook finally breaks historic mark with 42nd triple-double of the season

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates after scoring a game-winning, three-point shot at the buzzer against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates after scoring a game-winning, three-point shot at the buzzer against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Russell Westbrook capped his history-making 42nd triple-double of the season with a game-winning three-pointer on Sunday, as his Oklahoma City Thunder knocked the Denver Nuggets out of NBA play-off contention.

Westbrook scored 50 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and handed out 10 assists to break the single-season triple-double record set by Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 campaign. It was his third 50-point triple-double of the season - another record - and left Westbrook feeling "blessed, very blessed".

It was yet another remarkable display of the all-around excellence that a triple-double - the achievement of double-digit totals in three of five key statistical categories - has come to represent.

Westbrook had already joined Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double over the course of a season. But since notching his 41st triple-double of the season on Tuesday he had twice fallen short as he vied for No. 42.

When it came, it was spectacular. With fans in Denver cheering him on, he gained the needed 10th assist with 4min 17sec remaining in the fourth quarter. Three teammates had failed to connect after passes from Westbrook when he found Simaj Christon in the corner and handed off to him for a three-pointer.

That still left the Thunder trailing by 10, but Westbrook would have none of it. He scored the Thunder's last 13 points, draining a three-pointer as time expired to extinguish the Nuggets slim playoff hopes.

"It's something you dream about as a little kid to be able to do that on the road, especially from that distance," Westbrook said.

There was a nightmarish end for the reigning champions Cleveland Cavaliers in Atlanta, where the Hawks became just the third NBA team to overcome a deficit of 26 or more points in the fourth quarter to win.

The Hawks roared back to down the Cavaliers 126-125 in overtime, their second win over the champions in three days.

"A fourth quarter like that is hard to explain," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer acknowledged after his team out-scored the Cavs 44-18 in the fourth, tying it at 111-111 on Paul Millsap's jump shot as time expired.

Kyrie Irving scored 45 points for Cleveland and LeBron James posted a triple-double of 32 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.

However, James fouled out with less than two minutes remaining in overtime, a call that left him fuming that the his brush with Millsap as they battled for rebounding position should not have been a foul.

Atlanta never led until overtime, moving ahead for good on Mike Muscala's three-pointer with 35 seconds remaining.

"Any time you beat the defending NBA champions, it's huge, no matter the circumstances," said Tim Hardaway Jr, who scored 21 points for the Hawks.

Millsap finished with 22 and Dwight Howard added 19 for the Hawks.