Westbrook sets one mark but misses the other again

PHOENIX • Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook put his name in the National Basketball Association (NBA) record books once on Friday.

But a miserable shooting start and an inspired effort from the West's bottom side Phoenix Suns kept him from authoring any further rewrites.

Westbrook fell short of setting the NBA record for triple-doubles in a season, managing 23 points and 12 rebounds but only eight assists in a 99-120 loss to the Suns.

But he assured himself of becoming only the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season with his sixth assist of the game, feeding Victor Oladipo for a lay-up with 10min 36sec left in the third period.

He joined Oscar Robertson, who averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 rebounds for the Cincinnati Royals in 1961-62, when he had a triple-double in 41 games.

However, the 28-year-old, who missed his first 11 shots and committed five of his eight turnovers in the first quarter, failed to break the record for the second straight game. He remains tied with Robertson at 41 triple-doubles for the season.

Westbrook's chance at history was hampered by a miserable first half. Of his five turnovers in the first quarter, three came in the first three minutes.

When it came down to the crunch in the fourth quarter, his team-mates either missed shots or the Suns intentionally fouled, sending a message that the record was not going to be broken in their building.

Oklahoma City have three games remaining, beginning in Denver against the Nuggets today.

Westbrook made just six of 25 shots from the field, his worst shooting night of the season. After the game, he went to the Suns' practice court where he worked out instead of meeting the press.

He said: "You understand how important a game is and I want to make sure I'm playing the best that I need to play for my team-mates. Tonight I felt like I let them down.

"My main goal since I got here and especially this season is to win a championship. If I wanted to get 10 assists I could get 10 assists.

"Everyone wants to see the record broken but it's bigger than that for our team and for me. We feel we can win a championship. Maybe other people don't, maybe the media don't, but we're going for a championship."

The Thunder (45-34) are now locked into the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference play-offs.

Devin Booker scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter and finished with 37 to lead Phoenix (23-57), who were up by as many as 28 points and emphatically snapped a 13-game losing streak.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'Westbrook sets one mark but misses the other again'. Print Edition | Subscribe