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It appeared that Russell Westbrook’s outrageous workland and nonsensical statistical madness in the first quarter of the season was catching up. As the Oklahoma City Thunder let a 16-point lead slip away, which turned into a seven-point deficit with four minutes remaining against the Washington Wizards, Westbrook was clanging his way to an eyebrow-raising shooting night. You could feel the Monday Morning Point Guards and hot-takers revving their engines.
5-of-24. 6-of-26. 7-of-28. Missed layups. Missed jumpers. Missed everything.
He already had his triple-double. It was the win that was in doubt, and Westbrook wasn’t going to let that go without resistance. So naturally, despite his shooting struggles, Westbrook splashed a 3 with 8.5 seconds remaining to force overtime. And from there, he outscored the Wizards himself, 14-10, as the Thunder won their fourth straight, 126-115.
“When he goes through difficulties, he focuses more,” coach Billy Donovan said, “and I think that’s really unique.”
Westbrook scored 17 points in the final 5:08, hitting five of his last eight shots. The final triple-double tally: 35 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. It was his fourth straight, the 46th of his career, and for the first time since Oscar Robertson, a player will be averaging a triple-double in the month of December.
The descriptors are becoming platitudes, as Westbrook has somehow normalized the triple-double. He has taken what is a career highlight for many and turned it into an expectation. Or better, an average. This is a run of four consecutive triple-doubles for Westbrook, which somehow only ties the longest such streak of his career. He’s one assist and two rebounds away from the streak being eight games. He’s halfway to the number he posted for last season — 18 — which was the most in a campaign since Magic Johnson in 1981-82.
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“Uhhh, yeah,” teammate Victor Oladipo said when asked if he’s ever amazed by Westbrook. “I’ll be out there and some of the things he does are unreal, bro.”
“For me, every play matters,” Westbrook said. “You have to see what’s going on in the game, and you can always impact the game in different ways. That’s the type of player I am, trying to find ways to impact the game, whatever is going on.”