ORLANDO, Florida—With as prolific a scorer as Russell Westbrook is, the Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder never feel as though any deficit is too much to overcome.
Oklahoma City stormed back from a double-digit deficit behind another eye-popping performance by Westbrook to upend Orlando, 114-106, in overtime on Wednesday night. Westbrook scored 36 of his 57 points—the most in a triple-double in National Basketball Association (NBA) history—after halftime and had 13 rebounds and 11 assists to help the Thunder clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
It was the largest comeback win in Oklahoma City history.
On Monday night Westbrook had a 13-point outburst in the final three minutes to rally the Thunder past Dallas.
“I always say this about him, he never believes he is out of it or we’re out of it,” said Thunder Coach Billy Donovan, whose team improved to 43-31. “And he plays with an incredible competitive spirit. He plays with an unbelievable spirt. He always has a huge heart, he’s always a huge competitor and he finds ways to make things happen.
“Overall, it’s incredible what he is doing.”
Westbrook, just as he was two nights earlier, was the catalyst late in the fourth quarter and into the overtime period as he took every big shot and Orlando had no defensive answer. He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, which included the three-pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining in regulation that sent the game into overtime with his 50th point of the night.
He scored seven of his team’s 12 points in overtime as OKC pulled away from the Magic. He has 38 triple-doubles this season.
“I’m very thankful to the man above for allowing me to play the game I love,” said Westbrook, who finished one point shy of tying his career high. “And my teammates make it easy for me and give me a lot of opportunities to make plays like this.”
Westbrook’s performance was so impressive and dominating that chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” began to dominate Amway Center by late in the fourth quarter.
“Words really can’t describe it,” OKC guard Victor Oladipo said of Westbrook’s performance this season. “It’s just an honor to be able to play alongside him. It’s amazing to watch him and it’s good for me to watch, too.”
Enes Kanter added 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Thunder, and Oladipo had 13 points while returning to Orlando 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, who were eliminated from the playoffs before tipoff.
“This is really a tough one,” said Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who missed some clutch free throws at the end of regulation and the start of overtime. “We had so many opportunities to close out the game and didn’t. We went to me a lot and I didn’t deliver. I missed a couple of go-to shots in the fourth and some free throws. “
Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Klay Thompson had 23 and the Golden State Warriors rallied from a 22-point deficit in the opening quarter to beat the San Antonio Spurs, 110-98, for their ninth straight win.
Golden State extended its lead over San Antonio to 3 1/2 games for the league’s best record, beating the Spurs for the first time in three meetings this season.
Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and five assists for San Antonio. Leonard shot seven for 20 from the field while being guarded by a rotation of defenders.
The Spurs had a five-game winning streak halted. Manu Ginobili had 18 points for San Antonio and LaMarcus Aldridge added 17.
In Boston Giannis Antetokounmpo had 22 points and nine rebounds, and the Milwaukee Bucks knocked the Boston Celtics out first place in the Eastern Conference with a 103-100 victory.
Malcolm Brogdon, one of the leading contenders for NBA Rookie of the Year, finished with 16 points and nine assists. He had six key points in the final 2:46 to help Milwaukee fend off a late Boston charge.
The Bucks (39-36) have won five of six, including four straight on the road.
Boston (48-27) had won four in a row. The loss put the Celtics back in second in the Eastern Conference.
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 32 points. Avery Bradley added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Image credits: AP