OKLAHOMA CITY—For just a few moments, Russell Westbrook slowed down.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s mile-a-minute point guard took the time to soak in the atmosphere on Tuesday night after he matched Oscar Robertson’s single-season record with his 41st triple-double. The home crowd stood and chanted “MVP! MVP!” long after the assist, and he later waved to the crowd after play stopped.
“It’s one of those nights, a special night, and something I definitely will never forget,” he said. “I’m just truly honored to do it here, especially in Oklahoma City.”
Westbrook finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists to help the Thunder beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-79. He clinched his seventh straight triple-double on an assist to Taj Gibson with 9:17 left in the third quarter.
“An honor to just be mentioned in a conversation with Oscar Robertson, the different things he did for the game of basketball to allow me to play the game today,” Westbrook said.
Robertson set the record during the 1961-1962 season and Westbrook can break it on Wednesday in Memphis. Westbrook said he just wanted to focus on the moment, yet his mind raced ahead to someday telling his unborn son about the experience.
“It’s something that I could never dream about growing up in the inner city of Los Angeles,” he said. “I never dreamed about a moment like this, to be able to be on this stage.”
Westbrook also moved into a tie with Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the career list with his 78th triple-double.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who is third with 107 triple-doubles, was impressed with Westbrook’s ability to dominate without scoring as much as usual. Westbrook, the National Basketball Association’s scoring leader, made just four field goals.
“He didn’t have to score 40 tonight to help them win,” he said. “It showed that he was sharing the ball, and everybody was benefiting from that.”
Westbrook had 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists at halftime to help Oklahoma City take a 63-39 lead. He hit a three-pointer with 8.6 seconds left in the first half to reach double figures in points.
Westbrook got his 10th rebound and 10th assist six seconds apart. He left the game for good with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
“You could feel in the building, and you could see that his teammates were not going to let him down tonight,” Kidd said.
Paul George, meanwhile, scored 18 of his 35 points in the third quarter as the desperate Indiana Pacers beat the Toronto Raptors, 108-90, also on Tuesday night.
The Pacers (38-40) stopped a four-game losing streak that dropped them out of a tie for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference to the very real possibility of missing the postseason.
DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points for Toronto (47-31), which had won two in a row. Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The game was marred by a shoving match between Indiana’s Lance Stephenson and DeRozan with 3.3 seconds left. The melee spilled down the sideline and into the Pacers’ bench. Stephenson, P.J. Tucker and DeRozan all received technical fouls.
In Washington John Wall scored 14 of his 23 points in the third quarter, helping Washington hurt Charlotte’s playoff chances, 118-111.
The Wizards (47-31) returned from a five-game trip and stopped a three-game slide. Tying Toronto for the third seed in the Eastern Conference, Washington dealt Charlotte a significant blow after it had crept closer to a playoff spot with a three-game win streak.
Kemba Walker scored 37 points but the All-Star guard went cold in the third quarter along with the rest of the Hornets (36-42). After making 26 of their first 42 shots, they went 6 for their next 18 as the game slipped away.
Washington won for the 17th time this season when trailing by double digits.
LeBron James notched his second straight triple-double, Kevin Love scored 28 points and Cleveland warmed up for a big game in Boston by dropping 18 three-pointers in a 122-102 victory against Orlando.
Kyrie Irving added 24 points and J.R. Smith had 19 for the Cavs, who made nine 3s and scored 43 in the third quarter to turn a tight game into a blowout and beat Orlando for the 17th straight time.
The defending champions also moved into a tie with the Celtics atop the Eastern Conference. The teams meet on Wednesday for first place and temporary ownership of the top seed and home-court advantage until the NBA Finals.
Evan Fournier scored 21 for the Magic, who have lost five in a row.
Image credits: AP