Photo by Layne Murdoch | NBAE via Getty Images
Russell Westbrook grabbed yet another triple-double–his fifth-straight and 10th of the season–en route to a 101-92 victory over the outmatched New Orleans Pelicans Sunday night. The Thunder have now won five-straight games, and look to to extend that winning streak in Atlanta tonight.
Westbrook’s prolific triple-double ability has often gotten him compared to an all-time great in Oscar Robertson. Last night, however, Russ stepped into even rarer air: he’s the first since Michael Jordan in 1989 to notch five straight. Jordan is a personal idol for Russ–MJ recently inducted him into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame–so this accomplishment should mean a lot to him. Not that Russ would ever let on:
“I just play, honestly,” Westbrook said. “I don’t want to get in a conversation of if I’m going to do it every night. I just go out and compete at a high level every night, like I’ve been doing since I’ve been in the NBA.”
Westbrook finished the game with 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists. It wasn’t his most efficient effort, however: he shot 10-23 and turned the ball over 10 times.
This incredible fast break initiated by Russ was a thing of beauty:
The prescience by Westbrook to flip the ball over his head was simply phenomenal. Not many players in the NBA could have made that play, even if they had the audacity to try. Westbrook’s vision and creativity is second-to-none in this league.
Steven Adams was forced to leave the game with an apparent ankle injury. He was taken to the locker room around the three-minute mark in the first quarter and did not return for the duration of the contest. Although he suffered from a sprained ankle in the preseason, it was his right ankle; this time, Adams injured his left ankle. Although the severity of the injury won’t be known until later today at the earliest, an ankle sprain–especially of the high ankle variety–can sideline big men for several weeks.
Enes Kanter filled in admirably for Steven Adams. The league-leading scorer is no easy defensive assignment, but Kanter did well enough against Anthony Davis, forcing him into tough, contested shots. On offense, Kanter went at Davis with confidence and success in the post:
Season-high 24 points in the 🎨 for the Thunder in Q1. pic.twitter.com/bbkkuTtR9W
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 5, 2016
Kanter finished the game with 17 points, 10 boards, and two blocks.
Anthony Davis is a generational talent, but he’s not particularly insulated by the talent surrounding him. Despite his Herculian effort in this game (and really, on the season), the Pelicans simply lacked the firepower to stay in the game. Davis finished the 37 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and four blocks. It was a routine box score stuffing by Davis, but only three of his teammates scored in double digits on the night.
Former Sooner guard Buddy Hield was one of those teammates for Davis, scoring 16 points in his return to Oklahoma. As expected, he drew an emphatic cheer upon entering the game. Less expected, however, were the cheers whenever Hield drained a shot.
Buddy was visibly excited to make an impact on the game. Perhaps a bit too excited: by my count,Buddy airballed four shots, including his first. Still, Hield was critical in keeping the game respectable for the Pels. He hit some clutch shots to make the game close (including a three to make it a four point game in the fourth quarter), but never could push his team over the hump.
“I haven’t felt like that in a long time,” Hield said. “It’s so great to get back in there and get a rhythm and see the ball go through the net. I’ve been struggling the last couple games, but I feel more confident.”
The surging Thunder improve to 13-8, while the ailing Pelicans fall to 7-14. Next up for OKC: it’s wheels up to Atlanta, as the Thunder take on the Hawks at 6:30 CST.