West­brook scores 57 in lat­est triple

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ter­rance Har­ris

or­lando, fla. » Rus­sel­lWest­brook had 57 points, 13 re­bounds and 11 as­sists to lead the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der to a 114- 106 over­time win over the Or­lando Magic onWed­nes­day night.

West­brook, a lead­ingMVP­can­di­date, led the Thun­der from be­hind by as many as 21 points in the sec­ond half as he recorded his 38th triple- dou­ble of the sea­son. And like the 13- point out­burst in the fi­nal three min­utes against Dallas on Mon­day night for the win, West­brook was again the cat­a­lyst as he hit big shots in the fourth quar­ter, in­clud­ing the ty­ing 3- pointer with 7.1 sec­onds re­main­ing to force the ex­tra pe­riod.

Enes Kan­ter added 17 points and 10 re­bounds off the bench for the Thun­der, and Vic­tor Oladipo had 13 points while re­turn­ing to the Amway Cen­ter for the first time since be­ing traded by the Magic last June.

Evan Fournier fin­ished with 24 points and Ter­rence Ross added 23 for the Magic.

The vic­tory kept the Thun­der in the hunt for a fourth- place fin­ish in the Western Con­fer­ence stand­ings. The Magic en­tered hav­ing been elim­i­nated from the post­sea­son.

But for three quar­ters of the game, it was the Magic that seemed to have the most to play for. That changed, how­ever, late in the third quar­ter as Ok­la­homa be­gan mount­ing a come­back. The Thun­der never led in the fourth quar­ter but cut its dou­ble- digit deficit to sin­gle dig­its to set up West­brook’s hero­ics.

The Thun­der was stronger in over­time, scor­ing on its first four pos­ses­sions to take a 112- 106 lead in the first 2 ½ min­utes. West­brook scored five points dur­ing that stretch to help Ok­la­homa City outscore the Magic 10- 4.

The crowd at the Amway Cen­ter be­gan shout­ing “MVP! MVP! MVP!” af­ter West­brook spun in­side

The road ahead

The bat­tle for the eighth and fi­nal play­off spot in the Western Con­fer­ence is a two- team race be­tween the Nuggets and Trail Blaz­ers. Port­land cur­rently leads by a game and owns head- to- head, di­vi­sion and con­fer­ence tiebreak­ers. Here is the fin­ish­ing sched­ule: Den­ver ( 35- 39) Fri­day at Char­lotte ( 34- 41) Sun­day at Mi­ami ( 37- 38) Tues­day at New Orleans ( 32- 43) April 5 at Houston ( 51- 23) April 7 vs. New Orleans ( 32- 43) April 9 vs. Ok­la­homa City ( 43- 31) April 11 at Dallas ( 31- 43) April 12 at Ok­la­homa City ( 43- 31) for the bas­ket- and- one with 3: 17 re­main­ing in over­time.

Or­lando had just one field goal andNiko­laVuce­vic missed two of free throws dur­ing that span.

West­brook forced over­time with a 3- pointer that tied the game at 102 with 7.1 sec­onds left for his 50th point on the night. Seven sec­onds ear­lier, Vuce­vic could have put the game away but he missed the back end of a free throwset that left Ok­la­homaCity only need­ing West­brook’s 3 to send it into over­time.

The Magic man­aged to pull ahead by 21 late in the third quar­ter be­hind strong de­fense and an of­fen­sive surge by Fournier, but it was short- lived asWest­brook and Thun­der be­gan chip­ping away at the lead and trailed by just 10 at 82- 72 go­ing into the fourth quar­ter. West­brook scored 10 points in the quar­ter and Kan­ter came off the bench to add 10 points to help the mo­men­tum swing in Ok­la­homa City’s fa­vor dur­ing the fi­nal five min­utes of the quar­ter. Trail Blaz­ers ( 36- 38) Thurs­day vs. Houston ( 51- 23) Satur­day vs. Phoenix ( 22- 53) Mon­day 3 at Min­nesota ( 29- 44) Tues­day at Utah *( 45- 29) April 6 vs. Min­nesota ( 29- 44) April 8 vs. Utah *( 45- 29) April 10 vs. San An­to­nio ( 57- 17) April 12 vs. New Orleans ( 32- 43)

John Raoux, The As­so­ci­ated Press

OKC’s Rus­sel­lWest­brook dunksWed­nes­day night.

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