Russell Westbrook's 51 points in triple-double most since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

ByRoyce Young ESPN logo
Friday, October 28, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook registered the first 50-point triple-double since Kareem Abdul-Jabbarin 1975, leading the Thunder to a 113-110 win in overtime over the Sunson Friday night and a 2-0 start.

Westbrook's final line: 51 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists -- the third-highest point total ever in a triple-double.

"It was good," Steven Adams said. "Standard."

Westbrook scored 39 of his 51 points in the second half and overtime, including 23 in the third quarter. He gave the Thunder the lead for good in overtime with 7.6 seconds remaining on a layup -- his career-high 44th shot attempt. After sinking two free throws to seal it in the closing seconds, Westbrook reached the historic 50-point, triple-double plateau.

Westbrook didn't seem all that impressed with the feat, saying he hadn't reflected much on it.

"[I'm] hungry, I'll tell you that much," he said.

Westbrook played 45 minutes against the Suns. He displayed relentless spirit and energy throughout, sparking the Thunder from a 15-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.

"You've got to want to win," Westbrook said of taking on that level of workload. "It's pretty simple. If you want to win, you don't think about being tired. Being tired is a mind thing. It's in your mind. You've got to go out and compete at a high level and leave it on the floor."

Westbrook had a number of chances to put the game away in regulation, missing a handful of shots in the final few minutes. But in overtime, he put his head down and attacked the basket for the winning bucket.

"I should've attacked the first time," Westbrook said.

Of Westbrook's 10 assists, only two came in the fourth quarter and overtime. He set upAndre Robersonfor a 3 with 2:40 left in the fourth to put the Thunder up 102-98, and Roberson benefited from another Westbrook assist on a cut with 2:46 left in overtime to put Oklahoma City up by two.

"Tonight, I think I should've [trusted teammates] a lot more, honestly," Westbrook said. "Throughout the game, I've got to find ways to not just trust them but get them the ball where they can score the basketball. We missed some easy shots as well, but at the same time, I've got to do a better job of finding open guys, getting them more shots, but we came out with the win tonight and we can figure that out for the next game."

Coach Billy Donovan said he wasn't bothered by Westbrook's 44 shot attempts, saying he thought his All-Star point guard "took what the defense gave him."

"His heart, his competitiveness, his will to win, I never want to take that from him or ever get in the way of him feeling like he can't play with that fire or passion," Donovan said. "That's who he is. But everything, he's in timeouts telling guys to be ready, 'If they pull across, I'm going to find you.' He's doing that. He's talking about that. When the ball's in his hands, he's got to make those decisions, and tonight was a night, in my opinion, they were willing to live with him taking those shots.

"He's one of the best players in the world, and I have all the confidence in the world that he can make those shots when he's open, and I want him taking those shots."

Westbrook's teammates didn't appear to take any issue with the number of shots he took.

"Not being here, you hear a lot about him. You hear a lot of rumors. You hear a lot of things," said Victor Oladipo, who was the only other Thunder player in double figures with 21 points. "But sitting by him and working with him every day, and building a friendship with him every day, you realize what type of man he truly is. And this dude right here wants to win more than anyone in the world.

"And he'll do anything to do that. The misconception of what he used to be or what he is, is false. This is coming from me; I was with him for two months straight in the summer time. Just looking in his eyes and talking to him, you see how smart he is, what type of basketball player he is. He'll do anything to win."

Westbrook just missed a triple-double in the Thunder's opening game Wednesday, a win against the Philadelphia 76ers in which he had 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Last season, he had the most triple-doubles (18) since Magic Johnson in 1983.

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