NBA

Thunder Hold Off Pelicans as Westbrook Passes Larry Bird in Career Triple-Doubles

Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Thunder Hold Off Pelicans as Westbrook Passes Larry Bird in Career Triple-Doubles

Russell Westbrook’s 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists helped push the Thunder past the New Orleans Pelicans 114-105 on Wednesday night. It was Westbrook’s 60th career triple-double, moving him past Larry Bird for fifth-most all-time in the NBA.

It was a dominant first half for the Thunder, especially in the paint, where they outscored New Orleans 38-18. OKC led New Orleans 33-20 in the rebounding battle, and the Pels shot just 36.4% in the half. Pelicans forward Anthony Davis struggled even before he left the game in the second quarter after re-aggravating a right quadriceps injury. A 64-45 halftime lead by the Thunder made it seems as if the game could quickly get out of hand.

Steven Adams and Enes Kanter dominated the Pelicans inside in the first half:

But a first half was clinic by the Thunder, Westbrook, and the ‘Stache Bros, quickly devolved into a third quarter tailspin. If you’re feeling deja vu, that’ s because the same thing happened Monday night in Salt Lake City against the Jazz. The Thunder had eight turnovers in the third quarter against the Pelicans, several of which led to transition threes from New Orleans.

The difference this time is that the Thunder struggled defensively, not offensively. After scoring just 11 points in the third in their last game, the Thunder scored 28 but allowed 37. For Billy Donovan, this is unacceptable.

“Tonight was another opportunity to show stamina and consistency [on defense], and we gave up 37 points in that third quarter,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “We just didn’t have that same kind of attention out on the perimeter that we had in the first half.”

A 22-point deficit eventually became five after a flurry of three-pointers (including a 9-0 run) by the Pelicans before the Thunder were finally able to put the them to bed for good. This time, however, late-game heroics by Russell Westbrook weren’t necessary.

Instead, lockdown team defense did it. An Andre Roberson block led to a Westbrook dime to Victor Oladipo from deep in transition, and it was money, staving off the pesky Pels.

Steven Adams was OKC’s second-leading scorer with 20 points, adding 11 rebounds as well as three assists. Adams was a force on offense and defense on the interior, a timely reminder of why the Thunder committed $100 million to him. Victor Oladipo scored 15 points, grabbed five boards, notched two dimes, and had two steals and blocks apiece–a workman-like game if ever there were one. Enes Kanter scored 17 off of the bench.

For the Pelicans, E’Twaun Moore led the way in scoring from the bench, pouring in 18 and grabbing eight boards. Jrue Holiday and Solomon Hill had 14 points apiece for the Pelicans. Before leaving the game, Anthony Davis scored eight and grabbed five rebounds.

The Thunder improve to 27-19 on the season, while the Pelicans fall to 18-28. The Thunder look to win their third straight as they return home against the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Tipoff is at 7 P.M.

 

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