What more can be said of Russell Westbrook’s awe-inspiring string of performances? The NBA’s hottest commodity added yet another triple-double showing as his Oklahoma City Thunder finished a season sweep of Boston, 117-112 Friday night.
Westbrook’s 45 point, 11 rebound, 11 assist classic was the 6’3 guard’s 14th triple-double through 30 games. OKC’s master-closer dropped 20 fourth-quarter points as the Thunder improved to 18-12 this season.
Rookie Domantas Sabonis’ career-high 20 point showing, along with Enes Kanter’s 20 points, co-headlined in Oklahoma City’s notable victory —as the team is still without Victor Oladipo.
For Boston, Friday night’s loss snapped a four-game winning streak. All-Star Isaiah Thomas’ impressive 34 point, 10 assist exhibition led his team’s unsuccessful charge. Other Celtics to offer creditable outings include: Al Horford (23 points), Amir Johnson (17), and Avery Bradley (16).
14th. Triple-Double.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 24, 2016
and a W#BrodieSZNhttps://t.co/rKOU6F15rw
To open the night, the bruising Celtics overcame a strong effort from rookie Domantas Sabonis to establish an early 17-6 advantage. Visibly tentative, Oklahoma City's starting unit struggled to limit Boston's inside attack and transition game. Overall, the Celtics held a 28-14 first-quarter edge in those crucial categories.
As an effective countermeasure, Coach Billy Donovan inserted the low-post minded Enes Kanter. Kanter's nine point, four rebound effort helped spark an important 19-13 OKC run. With Westbrook struggling from the field (0-of-5), the Thunder entered quarter two down 28-25.
Spurred by a quick 9-5 jolt to begin the second, Boston pushed its lead to seven before Domantas Sabonis' continued offensive exploits, —and Russell Westbrook’s awakening— brought the Thunder within a point of the Celtics’ 50-49 lead.
With 1:40 remaining in the half, an authoritative Steven Adams dunk tied the contest at 51. After each team traded made three-point baskets, a pair of gliding Westbrook drives gave Oklahoma City a well-earned 58-54 halftime buffer.
At intermission, the major storyline was rookie Domantas Sabonis' peerless 17 point, —7-of-7 FGA— showing. Russell Westbrook also scored 14 second-quarter points to bring his total to 16. Overall, the Thunder outscored Boston 33-26 in the second frame.
Meanwhile, at the break, the Celtics were paced by the trio of Al Horford (11 points), Isaiah Thomas (10), and Amir Johnson (10). Boston connected on 7-of-17 first-half three pointers, while holding an 11-4 fastbreak edge.
Oklahoma City opened the penultimate period by outscoring Boston 22-18 to forge ahead 80-72. Westbrook again produced a quality 12 minutes of play, netting nine points, as a vibrant Thunder unit utilized a series of backdoor lay-ins to bring an 88-79 lead to the final stanza.
To begin the fourth, a plucky Celtics iteration took advantage of OKC’s backup unit as Isaiah Thomas shouldered the load to bring Boston within two, 91-89. At this point, Westbrook re-entered the fray, garnering his 14th triple-double of the season —yet Thomas’ late-game heroics continued. The pugnacious 5’9 guard tied the contest at 91 with seven minutes remaining. As the minutes ticked off, the lead changed hands several times.
Ultimately, though, a daring Westbrook drive and free throw placed Oklahoma City ahead 105-104. Furthermore, subsuquent clutch defensive plays resulted in a pair of decisive daggers from a Russell Westbrook that is simply two levels above any other NBA player at the moment.
As the final horn sounded, OKC defeated a home-standing Boston Celtics squad 117-112.
Having won three-of-four, the Thunder next take the court in a Christmas day showcase opposite the exciting Minnesota Timberwolves.