Russell Westbrook's now seemingly mundane triple-double heroics highlighted a 121-106 Oklahoma City Thunder triumph over the Denver Nuggets.
While Westbrook again shined, his teammates offered a wellspring of support to abolish a three-game losing streak, and establish superiority against a familiar divisional foe.
Following Saturday night's success, Oklahoma City now sports an overall record of 22-16. The defending Northwest Division champions are also 4-2 vs. intra-conference opponents.
As Westbrook's name sits atop the marquee, here is a closer glance at the main elements which comprised the Thunder’s notable return to the win column.
Cameron Payne’s dapper debut
After missing OKC’s opening 37 contests with a fractured foot, Cameron Payne made his seasonal debut with the Thunder a prosperous one. Payne scored each of his eight points amid a second-quarter OKC resistance that held off Denver's most aggressive run of the night.
The promising second-year guard coolly converted 2-of-3 3PA to mitigate the Nuggets' 38-point second-frame outburst. While his team entered intermission tied at 60, Payne finished the contest with 8 pts and two rebs while playing just 13 minutes.
As Oklahoma City picked up the win, the break-dancing Payne now has ample reason to celebrate.
‘Fourth-quarter’ Russell re-emerges
As Russell Westbrook's final period struggles mounted, so too did his team's losses. Throughout OKC's three-game skid, Westbrook misfired in the fourth to the tune of 8-of-27 FGA.
However, opposite Denver, the five-time All-Star delivered big in the clutch with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists, and 4-of-6 3PM. This season, Westbrook leads the association in fourth-quarter scoring. Furthermore, in 19 of Oklahoma City's wins, "The Brodie" averages 9.8 4Q ppg on 46% shooting.
All in a night's work.
Oklahoma City’s second-half dominance
Sparked by Wilson Chandler's 19 first-half points, and a collective 38-point second quarter fusillade, Denver entered intermission tied with the home-standing Thunder 60-all.
During the half, OKC Head Coach Billy Donovan made a brilliant set of adjustments. These strategic modifications palpably manifested as the Oklahoma City Thunder outscored Denver 61-46 following the break.
The resurgent second-half Thunder defense stymied the Nuggets at every turn, allowing the visiting team just 14-of-45 FGM.
This cohesive OKC display specifically led to...
Oklahoma City’s fourth-quarter dominance
Led by an emboldened Westbrook, the Thunder outscored Denver 33-26 in the final frame. Oklahoma City connected on 11-22 FGA while stonewalling an attempted late Nuggets comeback.
In an incredible fourth-quarter display, the undeniable Thunder harrassed Denver into 7-21 shooting, and 2-9 3PM. In addition, the visiting Nuggets committed five turnovers, as an opportunistic Oklahoma City iteration capitalized with a 10-6 fastbreak advantage.
The Thunder has owned Denver in the clutch this season, en route to establishing a 2-0 season-series record against their Northwest rival.
Russell Westbrook notches 17th triple-double this season
Saturday evening’s most noted storyline is Russell Westbrook's latest triple-double performance. With 32 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 assists Westbrook now has amassed 17 such feats through 38 contests this season.
For perspective, the 6’3 guard had 18 triple-doubles in 80 games all of last season. Currently, Westbrook averages a triple-double this campaign (31,10,10) while leading the league in scoring.
The necessity of these all-around exhibitions is gleaned best from the sixth-place Thunder’s 14-3 record when Russell hits double-digits across three categories.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook will attempt to maintain momentum against the Chicago Bulls Monday night.