After dropping three of four contests, and losing Victor Oladipo to injury, Saturday night the Thunder faced a crossroads challenge. Against a wall, Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook sprung forth with a dominant 114-101 victory over Phoenix.
While Westbrook notched his 13th triple-double of the season —26 points, 22 assists, and 11 rebounds— his supporting cast too responded in kind.
Wing performers Andre Roberson and Anthony Morrow provided vital floor-spacing as Steven Adams executed a spectacular two-man game with the ever-present Westbrook. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City's bench provided an efficient 41-point, 19-rebound performance.
In total, the Thunder clicked against a Phoenix team that a night earlier had taken San Antonio to the brink. A resolute OKC defense limited the Suns to just 40/33/70 percent shooting through three quarters —OKC took a 20-point lead into the fourth— while running roughshod over their conference rivals in fast-break points (22-0).
As Oklahoma City improved to 16-11, Westbrook set two impressive statistical milestones. With his 22-assist masterpiece, the five-time All Star is now the Thunder’s all-time single game leader in that category. Also, Westbrook has garnered 50 career triple-doubles.
It is quite possible that this season the 6’3 Westbrook could tie or surpass Larry Bird on the NBA’s triple-double leader board.
Triple-double talk notwithstanding, Oklahoma City’s latest win is all the more impressive when considering that Victor Oladipo (wrist) is still out with injury. Oladipo is the Thunder’s second-leading scorer (16.1 ppg) and leads the team in 3PM (51). The third-year pro is also among OKC’s defensive standouts (98.7 DEFRTG).
With Oladipo’s playing status still in question, the Thunder seek consecutive wins Monday night when hosting the struggling Atlanta Hawks.
Heading into that contest, here is a look at the top news stories from Thunder Nation.
Thunder beat-writer Brett Dawson reports that Oladipo will miss a fourth-consecutive contest.
ESPN’s Royce Young examines Russell’s magnificent all-around offensive mastery of the Suns.
WTLC runs down the highlights from OKC’s impressive Saturday night victory.