WESTBROOK SPARKLES

Bags his 30th triple dou­ble of the sea­son, helps Thun­der edge Jazz

New Straits Times - - Sport -

RUS­SELL Westbrook bagged his 30th triple dou­ble of the sea­son as the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der edged the Utah Jazz 109-106 on Tues­day.

Westbrook now stands third on the all-time list of play­ers with the most triple-dou­bles in a sin­gle sea­son, one adrift of Wilt Cham­ber­lain who fin­ished with 31 in the 1973-74 sea­son.

The record re­mains Os­car Robert­son’s 41 in 1961-62, a bench­mark Westbrook could well threaten with the Thun­der hav­ing 22 games left in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

On Tues­day the dy­namic point guard ex­ploded for 43 points, 11 re­bounds and 10 as­sists in a hard-fought win over Utah at the Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena.

It was the eighth time Westbrook has scored 40-points while se­cur­ing a triple dou­ble and the sec­ond time he has achieved the feat in the last two games.

“I try to put my­self in a po­si­tion to where I don’t panic, I’ve been there be­fore,” said Westbrook, a piv­otal fig­ure in the clos­ing stages for the Thun­der.

“As a leader, it’s my job to make sure my team is calm as well. That’s what I tried to do, make sure ev­ery­body is level headed as well and con­cen­trate on ex­e­cut­ing down the stretch.

“For many years, that was our prob­lem, be­ing able to ex­e­cute and get the shot we wanted to. But I think that’s a part of my job to make sure we ex­e­cute down the stretch.”

Westbrook re­ceived strong sup­port from Doug McDer­mott, who fin­ished with 16 points, while Enes Kan­ter rose from the bench to score 15 points with nine re­bounds.

“They are mak­ing my job a lot eas­ier,” Westbrook said of his team­mates.

“They put teams in a tough spot be­cause they have to help when we have great shoot­ers around the perime­ter. It’s tough for teams.”

Utah coach Quin Sny­der could not dis­guise his ad­mi­ra­tion for the Thun­der’s main man.

“He played great,” Sny­der said of Westbrook. “That’s who he is. ... He made some plays down the stretch. He does that.”

The win helped the Thun­der im­prove to 35-25, putting them within two games of the Jazz in the North­west Di­vi­sion.

Gor­don Hay­ward topped the Jazz scor­ing with 19 points while Rod­ney Hood weighed in with 18 points. George Hill added 13 as Utah fell to 37-23.

RE­SULTS: Char­lotte 109 LA Lak­ers 104, Den­ver 125 Chicago 107, Mem­phis 130 Phoenix 112, Ok­la­homa City 109 Utah 106, Detroit 120 Port­land 113 (OT), Wash­ing­ton 112 Golden State 108.

AP PIC

Thun­der’s Rus­sell Westbrook shoots as Jazz’s George Hill blocks dur­ing their NBA game in Ok­la­homa City on Tues­day.

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