Yesterday, Albert Burneko argued that the discussion about who deserves the NBA Most Valuable Player award has lately gone off track-that Russell Westbrook, averaging a triple-double for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been so thoroughly and overwhelmingly spectacular this season that the spectacular has gotten familiar.
Perhaps his performance in Thursday night's convincing 102-92 win over the San Antonio Spurs will reignite talk of his superiority.
Russ is now averaging 31.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.1 assists a game.
Westbrook is now tied with Wilt Chamberlain for the second most triple-doubles recorded in one season. Oscar Robertson holds the record at 41. The Warriors have had their own hellish schedule to deal with of late, a five-game East Coast road trip, a return home for just the one with Boston and then back on the plane for a back-to-back at Minnesota and then the Spurs. The Thunder had lost four consecutive games, including a Tuesday loss to Portland, in which OKC didn't have its usual rebounding dominance.
Kanter would finish the game with a double-double, making 60 percent of his shots on his way to 14 points and 10 rebounds. The TNT analyst and former National Basketball Association star spent the first quarter saying the Thunder just wasn't "that talented" and that with Kevin Durant gone, he thought they'd miss the playoffs (a common enough notion).
Certainly, after the team dropped four-straight contests to sub.500 iterations this Thunder win came as an unexpected surprise. In the first half, the Kings also outscored the Spurs 18-7 on the break. The Thunder never trailed after that point of the game. It didn't carry the kind of emphatic MVP statement against fellow contender Kawhi Leonard, mainly because the Thunder outplayed the Spurs considerably and there wasn't an opportunity to have a moment in a close game. Russell Westbrook had the steal and the head of steam.
The Spurs says Leonard and Aldridge won't play Wednesday night against Sacramento at home. But with flaws on the roster, and no go-to secondary option on off nights, when the team isn't playing well the responsibility falls directly to Westbrook. F Taj Gibson got his first start as a Thunder player in Sabonis' place.
Kelly Olynyk added 17 points, five rebounds and five assists for Boston.
Before that, Westbrook was walking to the scorer's table midway through the quarter with the Thunder ahead 12.
The Thunder will attempt to keep their momentum going Sat afternoon vs. Utah in the final game of a recent homestand.