Russell Westbrook’s pursuit of a triple-double average over the 2016-17 season is now a big enough story that it’s not crazy to cover it on a daily basis. With nine triple-doubles in this season’s 20 games prior to Sunday’s contest against the New Orleans Pelicans, Westbrook’s early-season achievements are not just hopeful indicators of a feat that has been achieved just one other time in the history of the NBA. At this point, it would almost be surprising if he didn’t keep up the pace.
In that case, it’s not especially notable that Westbrook put up a triple-double in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 101-92 win over New Orleans at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Westbrook’s 28 points (10-of-23 FG), 18 rebounds, and 12 assists were indicative of his overall impact on the result. As in most OKC games, Westbrook did everything the team could possibly ask of him to score, attack the glass, and set up his teammates.
Yet Sunday’s triple-double was especially notable, because Westbrook is now the first player since Michael Jordan in 1989 to post those numbers in five straight games. Jordan’s streak lasted seven games and occurred during a longer stretch of 10 in 11 games. However, Jordan put up just 15 triple-doubles in that entire 1988-89 season — only five more than Westbrook has through 21 games.
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It wasn’t all good for Westbrook on Sunday, although even his missteps made history. With 10 turnovers, he also became the first player since Jason Kidd in 2000 to post an ignominious quadruple-double.
Those less impressed by such statistical streaks should note that the Thunder have won all five games in Westbrook’s streak, improving their record to 13-8. (For comparison, the Bulls were 5-2 during Jordan’s seven-game run.) That puts the Thunder in the No. 5 spot in the West and only a half-game behind the Houston Rockets for sole possession of fourth place.
Sunday’s win was fairly straightforward — OKC led by 12 heading into the final period before the Pelicans mounted a strong attempt at a comeback. However, they never got closer than a four-point margin in the final two minutes. Anthony Davis continued his NBA-leading scoring form with 37 points (14-of-32 FG) and 15 rebounds, but got very little help from his teammates.
Enes Kanter noted that Anthony Davis "can't beat us just by himself." Full quote here: pic.twitter.com/62UNJov42z
— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) December 5, 2016
The difference in the results for Westbrook and Davis should make it clear that one man cannot win a game by himself. Still, that doesn’t make either player’s effort less notable. Win or lose, it’s sometimes enough to see someone test the limits of what one athlete can do.
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