OKLAHOMA CITY • Houston's Patrick Beverley has never been one to shy away from a challenge. That includes trying to slow down the "walking triple-double" - Russell Westbrook.
When Oklahoma City and Houston met in the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Friday, Beverley was matched up with Westbrook in the final seconds. Beverley won the battle and the war as the Rockets prevailed 102-99 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"We just tried to show bodies and force him into a crowd," Beverley said of his defence on Westbrook. "Make it real tough for him. We were fortunate."
Houston won despite a seventh straight triple-double by Westbrook. However, this was the first one to come in a loss.
Westbrook had 27 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and his triple-double streak matches Michael Jordan's seven-game run in the 1988-89 season.
James Harden shot six of 23 from the field on his way to 21 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds as he missed a triple-double. Guard Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 17 points while Ryan Anderson knocked in 14 points. Beverley grabbed 12 rebounds as the Rockets improved to 16-7.
"For sure, we're up there," Harden said of his team being compared to the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. "We're going to continue to grow, continue to work hard and play for each other."
Centre Steven Adams scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who dropped to 14-9. Victor Oladipo and Anthony Morrow each scored 12 points.
The Rockets out-rebounded the Thunder 52-46, which Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said was a key to the game.
"I thought the difference in the game was the fact we turned it over 17 times," he said. "And their ability to take a lot of threes and rebound on misses."
Westbrook fuelled the Thunder's bid to come back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit. The gap was down to one point after he made two free throws with 54.4 seconds remaining.
But a miss from Oladipo and two misses from Westbrook - including an air-ball from three-point range in the face of ferocious defending by Beverley - saw the Thunder's six-game winning streak end.
Trevor Ariza got the rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws to put Houston up 102-99.
After the defeat, Westbrook was in no mood to discuss the significance of his run of triple-doubles, which have his team-mates in awe.
"After 10 years, 20 years from now," Thunder centre Enes Kanter said, "I'm going to look back and be like, 'Man, I played with that dude.' I'm going to tell my kids, maybe my grandkids one day, 'You know what? I played with Russell Westbrook'."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE