Westbrook's historic triple-double causes Spurs to wilt

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (right) drives to the basket as Thunder centre Enes Kanter defends. Leonard scored a team-high 19 points.
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (right) drives to the basket as Thunder centre Enes Kanter defends. Leonard scored a team-high 19 points.PHOTO: REUTERS

OKLAHOMA CITY • The San Antonio Spurs, riding a nine-game winning streak, came into Thursday as one of the hottest teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, waiting on the Spurs in Oklahoma City was a squad thirsty for a victory.

The Thunder needed to snap their four-game losing streak and that was enough incentive for them. Led by Russell Westbrook's 31st triple-double of the season, they pulled out a 102-92 win over San Antonio at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

"I thought we did a good job, especially defensively," Thunder guard Westbrook said. "Making an impact on the ball for 48 minutes, it was good. It means that we're on the right track. Obviously throughout the season there are times you go through adversity. The strongest teams stick together through adversity. Tonight was one of those nights when we stuck together."

He scored 23 points to go along with 13 assists and 13 rebounds. He is tied with Wilt Chamberlain for the second-most triple-doubles in a season. The most is 41 by Oscar Robertson in 1961-62.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan praised Westbrook for leading by example. "He says he plays every game like it's the last game of his career," Donovan said. "I really, really admire that and respect that. Because tomorrow is not promised. He is just focused on right now."

Thunder's Victor Oladipo scored 20 points in his second game back since missing six with back spasms. Enes Kanter came off the bench to score 14 points and grab 10 rebounds as the Thunder improved to 36-29.

Kawhi Leonard finished with 19 points for San Antonio. However, he was held to two rebounds, two assists and sat out the entire fourth quarter after being hit in the face. There was no word on whether he will play against Golden State today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time). Pau Gasol scored 18 points while LaMarcus Aldridge posted 17 points and six rebounds for the Spurs (50-14).

"In general, they were the more aggressive team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Nine out of 10 times, that's what wins basketball games."

In Detroit, Reggie Jackson scored 21 points and the Pistons (32-33) overcame LeBron James' 50th career triple-double by downing the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-101.

Andre Drummond had 20 points and 16 rebounds and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tobias Harris had 15 points apiece for the Pistons.

James collected 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Kyrie Irving supplied 27 points and Channing Frye had 15, all on three-pointers, but Cleveland (42-21) dropped their third straight.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Westbrook's historic triple-double causes Spurs to wilt'. Print Edition | Subscribe