DENVER • Russell Westbrook chased history all season, and with another incredible performance on Sunday, he set himself apart from the rest of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The 28-year-old guard capped his record-setting 42nd triple-double with a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied to beat the Denver Nuggets 106-105.
Westbrook ended his historic day with a 36-foot dagger to finish with 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to pass Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson for most triple-doubles in an NBA season.
He had already joined Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double over the course of a season.
"Blessed, very blessed," Westbrook said after his third 50-point triple-double this season.
He scored the Thunder's last 15 points to eliminate the Nuggets from play-off contention with a contested shot that set off a team celebration.
THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF
Blessed. Very blessed. It's something you dream about as a little kid to be able to do that on the road, especially from that distance.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK , Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, feels he's fulfilled his childhood aspiration.
"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.
He also strengthened the argument that he should be the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP).
"Tonight was a pretty good (case)," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
"I really, really believe that he is because of what he's done between the lines, because of what he's done from a leadership role."
The Thunder's win came two days after Westbrook missed a chance to get No. 42 in a loss at Phoenix.
He stayed behind after the game to shoot, getting in extra work that Donovan says is common.
"It's a great point to why he's a great player," Donovan said.
SIMPLY NO CONTEST
I really, really believe that he is because of what he's done between the lines, because of what he's done from a leadership role.
BILLY DONOVAN , Thunder coach, believes Westbrook has no peers when it comes to the league's MVP.
"Not only his physical ability and talent, but people unfortunately, young players, don't get a chance to see the commitment level that he makes. He's not someone who's going to broadcast it."
Westbrook thanked his team-mates in the locker room. He said he was giving the game ball and everything else from the day to his parents.
He can now focus on the play-offs and impending fatherhood. His wife, Nina, is expecting their first child, a son, next month.
"It's a blessing," he said. "I'm praying for my wife. I know she's home watching, and can't wait to bring him into the world."
Danilo Gallinari had a season-high 34 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds, and Nikola Jokic scored 23 points for Denver, who led by eight points with 2min 27sec left but could not hold on.
The Nuggets (38-42) needed to win their last three games and hope the Portland Trail Blazers dropped their last two, but they suffered a second heartbreaking loss to the Thunder this season.
Oklahoma City rallied from nine down late to beat Denver in overtime on Nov 25. That one hurt, but this one was fatal to the Nuggets' season.
"Down the stretch, we had a lack of poise, lack of execution," coach Michael Malone said.
"Everything that could go wrong went wrong."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE