Give Russell Westbrook the MVP! He not only hit the buzzer-beating three to beat the Nuggets, he also made history by breaking Oscar Robertson’s single-season triple-double record. This was the perfect ending for a historic game.
Westbrook finished the night with 50 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 1 steal – his third 50-point triple-double of the season. He scored 18 points in the fourth quarter alone and single-handedly willed the Thunder to overcome a 14-point deficit. This was a signature MVP performance for Russ and he deserves all the credit for the win.
With this loss, the Denver Nuggets have been eliminated from playoff contention. That’s definitely not the ideal way to end the season for the Nuggets, but the Denver fans were cheering Russ like it was a Thunder home game. For most of the afternoon, the Nuggets held on to a comfortable ten-point lead. Then the Westbrook Show took full flight after Russ broke the single-season triple-double record. Why not?
- A wide open Semaj Christon three-pointer was the shot that gave Russell Westbrook his 42nd triple-double. The line-up at the time was Westbrook, Christon, Singler, Grant and Sabonis – Russ clearly wanted to get the assist, but just had an awful combination of guys that really struggle at times to score. The game started to feel a little out of reach and I was starting to think the triple-double might not happen. The shot from Christon really lit a spark for the Thunder and was a great moment.
- Kyle Singler played 34 minutes! Doug McDermott and Alex Abrines both missed this game and Andre Roberson played only 18 minutes in his return. This left plenty of playing time for Singler, who actually had a pretty solid game overall. He finished the night with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. Someone’s clearly been in the float tank and wants the MVP for himself.
- The Thunder finished the night +12 in rebounds, +14 in offensive rebounds, +11 in fast break points and +8 for points in the paint.
- In 17 minutes, Enes Kanter picked up 15 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist. Kanter and Taj Gibson both have been seeing limited playing time and I just don’t get that.
- Steven Adams had a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Solid game for Steve, as he pulled down 6 offensive rebounds and logged his 10th straight game with at least three offensive rebounds.
- Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler were both great for Denver. Gallinari ended the night with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Chandler finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. The Thunder need to find a way to get one of these guys this offseason. I really think either guy would fit an immediate need at Small Forward. They both were able to be effective in large part because of Roberson’s limited playing time.
- Nikola Jokic had 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. He had a good game overall, but got in foul trouble late in the game.
- For large stretches of the game, the Thunder really struggled to guard shooters behind the arc in transition. Houston is going to be firing on all cylinders in the playoffs and OKC will need everyone to play smart perimeter defense in that series. If the Thunder can get everyone at 100%, they have advantages that, on paper, should be easy to replicate – winning the rebounding battle, playing in transition, out-scoring their opponent in the paint. The Thunder need to emphasize their strengths for the last two games of the season to get a good rhythm going for the playoffs.
- Russell Westbrook is amazing at basketball. Just wanted to reiterate that point one final time.
Next Up: On Tuesday in Minnesota at 7pm CST.