UN­STOP­PABLE WEST­BROOK

Notches 35th triple double as Thun­der power past Philadel­phia

New Straits Times - - Sport - RUSSELL WEST­BROOK

NBA scor­ing leader Russell West­brook un­leashed his 35th triple double of the sea­son on Wednesday, pow­er­ing the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der over vis­it­ing Philadel­phia 122-97 and mov­ing closer to league his­tory.

West­brook scored 18 points, grabbed a game-high 11 re­bounds and passed out a game-high 14 as­sists to spark the Thun­der, who were led in scor­ing by 24 points from Turk­ish re­serve cen­tre Enes Kan­ter, who hit 8-of-9 from the floor and free-throw line.

West­brook needs six more triple dou­bles in the fi­nal 11 games for the Thun­der (41-30) to match the all-time one-sea­son record of 41 triple dou­bles set by Os­car Robert­son in the 1961-62 cam­paign.

That was the sea­son Robert­son be­came the only player in NBA his­tory to av­er­age a triple double for the en­tire sea­son, a feat West­brook is on pace to match.

West­brook leads the NBA with 31.4 points a game and av­er­ages 10.5 re­bounds and 10.3 as­sists a game as well. he ranks third in the league in as­sists this sea­son and 10th in re­bounds.

Ok­la­homa City open a three-game road trip on Sunday at Hous­ton that also in­cludes stops at Dal­las and Or­lando. In all, seven of the last 11 for the Thun­der are away from home.

Bounc­ing back af­ter scor­ing only 15 points on Mon­day against Golden State, West­brook went 6of-6 from the floor and freethrow line.

He didn’t at­tempt a three­p­ointer for the first time since March 14, 2016 — a span of 83 games.

West­brook weighed in on the grow­ing is­sue of stars be­ing benched by coaches for games when healthy so they can rest, say­ing he prefers to play, hav­ing missed only one game for rest his en­tire NBA ca­reer.

“I like to play bas­ket­ball so I like to go out and com­pete and have fun,” West­brook said. “I look at it dif­fer­ently from be­ing hurt and miss­ing a lot of games, I em­brace ev­ery­thing mo­ment I have to play bas­ket­ball and en­joy the time I can play.”

The los­ing 76ers con­firmed that cen­tre Joel Em­biid would have surgery on his left knee to re­pair a torn menis­cus.

He had al­ready been ruled out for the re­main­der of the sea­son. The Cameroon stand­out av­er­aged 20.2 points, 7.8 re­bounds and 2.5 blocked shots a game this sea­son but has not played since Jan 27.

Gary Harris net­ted 21 points to lead seven double-fig­ure scor­ers for the Den­ver Nuggets in a 126-113 home vic­tory over reign­ing NBA cham­pi­ons Cleve­land Cava­liers.

Kyrie Irv­ing scored 33 points, Deron Wil­liams added 19 and LeBron James had 18 for the Cava­liers (46-24), whose lead over Bos­ton in the East­ern Con­fer­ence shrank to only one game.

Isa­iah Thomas scored 25 points and Avery Bradley added 18 points as the Bos­ton Celtics (46-26) cruised over vis­it­ing In­di­ana 109-100. Paul Ge­orge led the Pac­ers (36-35) with 37 points.

Char­lotte re­serve forward Frank Kamin­sky scored 13 of his 18 points in the de­ci­sive fourth quar­ter to power the Hor­nets over host Or­lando 109-102.

At 32-29, the Hor­nets, led by 22 points from Kemba Walker, im­proved their slim play­off hopes while beat­ing the Magic for the fourth time this sea­son.

Led by Nikola Mirotic’s 28 points, the Chicago Bulls boosted their play­off chances with a 117-95 home rout of Detroit.

With­out sus­pended cen­tre Robin Lopez and in­jured big man Cris­tiano Fe­li­cio, the Bulls matched Detroit at 34-38 for ninth in the East­ern Con­fer­ence, 1 1/2 games be­hind Mi­ami for the fi­nal play­off spot.

Wash­ing­ton’s Bradley Beal scored 28 points and team­mate John Wall added all 22 of his points in the sec­ond half to power the Wizards over At­lanta 104-100.

RE­SULTS: Den­ver 126 Cleve­land 113, Chicago 117 Detroit 95, Ok­la­homa City 122 Philadel­phia 97, Wash­ing­ton 104 At­lanta 100, Bos­ton 109 In­di­ana 100, Char­lotte 109 Or­lando 102. AFP

I look at it dif­fer­ently from be­ing hurt and miss­ing a lot of games, I em­brace ev­ery­thing mo­ment I have to play bas­ket­ball and en­joy the time I can play.

APPIC

Ok­la­homa City Thun­der’s Russell West­brook takes a shot de­spite close at­ten­tion from Philadel­phia 76ers Richaun Holmes on Wednesday.

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