Basketball: Westbrook's focus on team rather than breaking record

OKLAHOMA CITY • For most of the season, Russell Westbrook's chase of the triple-double record and his team's success coincided.

The Oklahoma City Thunder's success rate when he reaches those magical double-digit numbers made the historical ride beyond reproach.

However, the lustre is starting to come off as the Thunder have dropped three of their last five games in which Westbrook earned a triple-double. The latest came on Sunday, when the Charlotte Hornets beat Oklahoma City 113-101 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Westbrook registered his 40th triple-double of the season as he posted 40 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He is now just one triple-double away from tying the record held by Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (1961-62).

But, when asked what he feels about potentially tying the record, he did not want to talk about it.

"We gotta win," he said. "That's my thoughts.

"We were just making bad mistakes, bad decisions," he said after a game that saw the Thunder hand over 24 turnovers. "Starting with myself, we have to take better care of the ball."

Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook driving to the basket between Charlotte forward Marvin Williams and centre Cody Zeller during their game at Chesapeake Energy Arena. He is just two triple-doubles away from breaking the record but his main concern is the Thunder’s patchy form. PHOTO: REUTERS

With six games left in the regular season, Westbrook can match the record when the Thunder host the Milwaukee Bucks today.

Oklahoma City lie in sixth place in the Western Conference standings at 43-33. They are 11/2 games ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies in the standings.

Kemba Walker scored 29 points to lead Charlotte (36-41), who sit one game behind the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, who are tied for the eighth and final play-off spot in the Eastern Conference.

In Cleveland, the Cavaliers looked to 2016 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player LeBron James once again to secure a 135-130 win over the Pacers in double-overtime.

He finished with 41 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists for his 11th triple-double of the season and the 53rd of his career.

But he lost his cool in an on-court shouting match with team-mate Tristan Thompson, the two trading barbs over a blown coverage.

"I had good intentions but I was a little bit too demonstrative," James said. "I can't show up my team-mates, that's for sure, especially Double T worked hard for our team, he's a big-time player."

The Cavs moved to 49-27 to stay a half-game behind the Boston Celtics, who are 50-27. The Pacers meanwhile fell to 37-40, leaving them tied with the Heat.

Cleveland's win sets the stage perfectly for a titanic battle with Boston tomorrow. The Celtics downed the New York Knicks 110-94 for their 50th win and maintained their grip on first place.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'Westbrook's focus on team rather than breaking record'. Print Edition | Subscribe