Just ahead of OKC’s 82nd opening-tip which bookended an emblazoned campaign, NBA legend Oscar Robertson appeared before the reverent Chesapeake Energy Arena faithful to acknowledge Russell Westbrook’s accomplishments, and endorse the new single-season triple-double leader’s MVP cause.
Oscar Robertson casts his ballot. pic.twitter.com/VykTNYhBJ2— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 13, 2017
And while Westbrook’s most valuable player fate now lay before a voting panel, this evening’s revelries were apropos of an OKC squad preparing for first-round battle with the explosive Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
Though Oklahoma City’s march continues, Denver had its playoff hopes dashed by Russell Westbrook during the teams’ penultimate meeting.
Wednesday, with only pride at stake for Mike Malone’s crew, rising-star Nikola Jokic added 29 points, 16 rebounds, and eight assists, as four other Nuggets contributed double-figure scoring, led by Jamal Murray’s 27.
Conversely, with evenly apportioned minutes throughout its roster, Enes Kanter (12) led OKC in scoring. Meanwhile, Westbrook, the evening’s honoree, played just 18 minutes and finished with five points, five rebounds and eight assists.
In total, each Oklahoma City player checked the scoring column, with Domantas Sabonis (2) being the only Thunder to not reach 5+ points.
Following a protracted battle for the eighth, and final, playoff seed, Denver finished just outside of post-season stead at 40-42.
Oklahoma City enjoys an uplifting 47-35 finish as their real season begins Sunday night on TNT.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER VS. HOUSTON ROCKETS PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
No. 3 Houston Rockets vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder
Game 1: Sunday at Houston, 9 PM ET (TNT)
Game 2: at Houston
Game 3: at Oklahoma City
Game 4: at Oklahoma City
Game 5*: at Houston
Game 6*: at Oklahoma City
Game 7*: at Houston
*Denotes if necessary