NBA

Russell Westbrook Makes History, Leads Thunder to Comeback Victory

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Russell Westbrook Makes History, Leads Thunder to Comeback Victory

After 73 games of a season in which Russell Westbrook had been incessantly making history, it should have come as no surprise when he one-upped himself. Westbrook’s heroics proved the difference in a contest against the Orlando Magic that the Thunder, to be frank, had no business winning.

One game after a miracle comeback in which he scored 12 points of a 14-0 run, Westbrook took over down the fourth quarter stretch against the Magic, hit a three-pointer with 7.6 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime, and scored five in the additional period to put the Magic away.

Just seconds before Westbrook hit the game-tying shot, Nikola Vucevic missed the second of two free throws to keep the Magic lead at three.

The Thunder breezed through overtime, scoring on their first four possessions as the Magic managed just four points. It seemed that after such a furious comeback from Westbrook and the Thunder, they had little left in the tank.

It’s to be expected from a lottery bound team. Oklahoma City should be criticized for their inability to handle business, and Orlando should be lauded for their performance in the first three quarters of the game. Unfortunately for the Magic, they got Westbrook’d.

The Thunder had played very poorly before Westbrook’s requisition of the action in the fourth quarter. A 21-point deficit — the largest overcome in Thunder history, by the way — was chipped away from beginning in the late stages of the third quarter, but never quite seemed in reach until Westbrook’s last-second heroics.

Watch the game’s full highlights below:

Speaking of history: Russell Westbrook’s 57 points is now the highest scoring triple-double performance in NBA history. Russ also added 13 rebounds and 10 assists, pushing him to 38 on the season — now just three away from Oscar Robertson’s record of 41. With 75 in his career, he’s also just three away from from tying Wilt Chamberlain’s fourth-highest mark.

The historical significance of Russell Westbrook’s season was not lost on Magic fans — although I suspect they may have been outnumbered by Russell Westbrook fans. These MVP chants were decidedly not just a smattering of fans supporting Westbrook’s MVP candidacy. With the game essentially sealed in overtime, the Orlando crowd endorsed the King of the Prairie:

 

 

For the most part, Westbrook’s teammates struggled throughout. Enes Kanter scored 17 points and corralled 10 rebounds. Victor Oladipo, who was treated to a tribute video on his first return to the Amway Center since being traded, scored 13 points but struggled shooting, making just 5-of-17 shots. No other Thunder players scored in double digits.

For Orlando, Evan Fournier led the way with 24 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Toronto transplant Terrence Ross scored 23 points. It was a balanced scoring effort from the Orlando Magic, with all starters scoring in double digits, and the bench combining for 24 points.

The victory sealed a playoff spot for the Thunder, and a fourth place finish is still not entirely out of the question. Pending the night’s action (i.e. a Jazz loss), the fourth seed could be in the cards.

The Thunder improve to 43-31, while the Magic fall to 27-48.

Next up for Oklahoma City: they take on the San Antonio Spurs at home on Friday, beginning a three game homestand. Tip-off is at 7 P.M.

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