Russell Westbrook caps historic season with 42nd triple-double
DENVER — Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook has racked up more triple-doubles in a season than anyone in NBA history, breaking a record that Oscar Robertson held for 55 years.
Westbrook set the record in spectacular fashion, finishing with 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. His 40-footer at the buzzer sealed the Thunder’s 106-105 victory and eliminated the Denver Nuggets from the playoff hunt.
This was Westbrook’s third 50-plus-point triple-double of the season and eighth with at least 40 points.
Westbrook had a double-double before halftime, finishing the first half with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. He recorded his 10th assist by feeding Semaj Christon for a 3 in the right corner with 4:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Pepsi Center crowd immediately responded with a standing ovation. During the next break in play, the Nuggets’ public-address announcer congratulated Westbrook on the record. Westbrook quickly waved in acknowledgement, then drove for a layup seconds after play ensued.
Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game during his remarkable campaign, making him the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double until Westbrook accomplished the feat this season.
“I’m honored just to be mentioned in a conversation with Oscar Robertson,” Westbrook said recently. “The different things he did for the game of basketball to allow me to play the game today, I think that’s more important. Obviously triple-doubles are a great thing, but the way he played the game, the era when he played the game to allow guys like me to be able basketball and be able to do things like this.”
Westbrook’s triple-double on Sunday was the 79th of his career and moves him past Wilt Chamberlain for 4th most all-time, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information. Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138), and Jason Kidd (107) remain ahead of Westbrook on the all-time list.
Westbrook has a triple-double in three straight games against the Nuggets dating back to last season.
Westbrook began averaging a triple-double on Nov. 29 against the New York Knicks, and maintained the averages for the rest of the season, never dropping below 10 in any category.
Per Basketball Reference, he’s the first player ever listed under 6-foot-7 to average double-digit rebounds. Throughout the season Westbrook would often grow agitated talking about triple-doubles, but as he made history recently, Westbrook has been far more reflective and appreciative.
“You could never say in a million years that I would ever think that was even possible,” Westbrook said Friday after clinching the triple-double average for the season.
“For me to do it, it’s a blessing that I’m honored to be able to do in this game today at the highest level. It’s a true blessing. I’m just very thankful to be able to do it.”
Westbrook’s season has been full of history, with him running up two streaks of seven consecutive triple-doubles, second only to Wilt Chamberlain’s streak of nine. He sits fourth all-time in career triple-doubles at 78, tied with Chamberlain. He’s had seven 40-point triple-doubles, and two 50-point triple-doubles.
Westbrook is also headed for his second scoring title, leading the league averaging 31.7 points per game. It’s the highest scoring mark of Westbrook’s career, to go with career marks in rebounding (10.7) and assists (10.4).