OKLAHOMA CITY • Russell Westbrook has the ability to hurt opposing teams in a variety of ways. But, regardless of which way the Oklahoma City point guard chooses to rip apart National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, the foundation is his aggressive nature.
This was on display on Sunday, when he scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Thunder to a 118-110 victory over the slumping New Orleans Pelicans at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The 21 points is the most Westbrook has ever scored in the fourth quarter during his career.
"I think throughout the game, I try to find ways to pick my spots," he said. "Tonight was the fourth quarter. Some nights it may be early, some nights it may be late. I just play.
"The game will tell you what to do. If something is working, I keep doing it."
He ended the night with 41 points on 14-of-29 shooting from the field. He posted 11 rebounds, 11 assists but gave up nine turnovers to notch his 29th triple-double this season.
THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE
I just stay in attack mode. I did a terrible job of taking care of the basketball. But I stayed in attack mode.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK, Oklahoma City point guard, on his 21-point effort in the fourth quarter in the Thunder's win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
It was also his seventh career 40-point triple double, tying with Wilt Chamberlain for the second most in NBA history.
"I just stay in attack mode," Westbrook said. "I did a terrible job of taking care of the basketball. But I stayed in attack mode and tried to help us win."
Enes Kanter came off the bench to score 20 points and grab nine boards. Steven Adams and Alex Abrines each scored 13 points for the Thunder (34-25).
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans (23-37) with 38 points and seven rebounds. DeMarcus Cousins added 31 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out. E'Twaun Moore was the only other Pelicans player to hit double figures (10).
It was the third straight loss for the Pelicans since acquiring Cousins in a trade last week.
"I thought we played well," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said.
"I thought we did a good job. We started the game the right way. At the end of the day, Russ made all the plays down the stretch. You have to give them credit."
With the Thunder leading 94-93, Westbrook hit back-to-back three-pointers before Kanter added two free throws.
That forced Gentry to bring Cousins off the bench with five fouls. The centre was promptly fouled and hit two free throws.
Westbrook came right back down and nailed another three-pointer. Davis scored four straight points, Moore drilled a corner three-pointer and the Pelicans were back to within three points with 3min 50sec left.
Westbrook ended Cousins' night when Jrue Holiday let him drive straight down the middle of the lane for a tomahawk dunk on Cousins, who picked up his sixth foul on the play. The three-point play gave the Thunder a 110-106 advantage.
"Obviously it changed the game from the standpoint of we were able to throw the ball inside and he was playing well," Gentry said. "It took all of that away. Like I said, Russ made all the plays at the end of the game."
With 1:41 left, the Pelicans had the ball and trailed by four. But Holiday missed a three-point attempt to set up two free throws on the other end for Westbrook.
He hit two more on Oklahoma City's next possession and that was enough to close out New Orleans.
The Thunder won the rebound battle 53-26 and owned the points in the paint 56-40.