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Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook continues to push the boundaries of what seems possible as he stuffs the stat sheet with previously unheard-of numbers.
Two years ago, he joined Oscar Robertson (1961-62) as the only player to average a triple-double wire-to-wire. Last season, he became the first player to ever do so twice. And now Westbrook has a chance to re-write the record books by recording a triple-double in 10 straight games.
Westbrook led the Thunder to a 117-112 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday while posting 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. It was his ninth straight triple-double, which ties Wilt Chamberlain’s 1968 record, and he’ll have a chance to set the record on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
In the last 35 years, there have been 10 streaks of three or more triple-doubles, and Westbrook has seven of them. In the 2016-17 season alone, Westbrook had two separate streaks of seven triple-doubles, which was his previous best.
Westbrook has been more deferential than normal during his last nine games. During his first triple-double season, he averaged 31.6 points, and that fell to 25.4 points per game last campaign. This season, he’s only averaging 21.2 points per game, and he’s putting up 19.6 points per game during this stretch to go with 14.1 assists and 13.1 rebounds per game.
The 30-year-old was very much his normal self with an inefficient offensive game (8-of-21 shooting, 1-of-5 from three) that contributed to an early deficit. However, his normal self also includes some incredible athleticism and ability to navigate traffic.
While Westbrook’s scoring is down lately as Paul George takes a greater offensive role, he’s having his best season as a facilitator. His 11.2 assists per game is nearly an entire point above his previous best, and Westbrook showed off some excellent passing Saturday, including this dime to Steven Adams for an easy lay-up:
Unfortunately the Thunder’s Twitter feed did not supply a video of a rebound to complete the trifecta of highlights, but Westbrook did come through in the clutch at the end. Down a point with less than a minute, he split the defenders on a pick and roll and laid in an easy bucket.
Now Westbrook can move on to focus on that record-breaking triple-double against Portland, along with, you know, beating a division rival. Westbrook went off for 31 points but just nine rebounds and seven assists against them in early January and then put up a 29-14-10 triple-double later in the month.
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