With four straight triple-doubles contributing directly to wins, Russell Westbrook’s ability to make the Oklahoma City Thunder tick is undeniable. Not that there was any doubt on Thursday night as the NBA’s leading scorer had 24 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds to lead his team to a 123-102 blowout victory over the Toronto Raptors.
It was Westbrook’s 34th triple-double of the season as he continued his assault on the NBA’s single-season record for triple-doubles of 41, set by Oscar Robertson during the 1961-62 season. Oklahoma has 14 regular season games left.
You wouldn’t know from his postgame comments, though, as he deflected the talk from his play to the play of his teammates. In particular, he downplayed his role in an 18-6 second-quarter Thunder run in which he either scored or assisted on every point.
“They are an aggressive defensive team,” he said of the Raptors. “They like to trap and stuff, so my job was to use that to my advantage, take on two people and make sure the guys get open.”
The Thunder led wire-to-wire from Steven Adams’ hook shot 1:09 in and were rarely challenged, extending their lead to a game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter before running out the clock. The win split the season series with the Raptors.
Also instrumental in the victory was the play of Victor Oladipo, who chipped in with 23 points, as all five of Oklahoma City’s starters registered double-digits in points, combining for 80 points.
The Raptors held a closed-door meeting for more than 30 minutes following the loss, their third defeat in four games.
“That exhibition of basketball is unacceptable,” coach Dwane Casey said afterward. “I want to apologize to the fans, to everybody for the way we played tonight.”
DeMar DeRozan led the way with 22 points, one of five players who scored in double figures, but with just 14 games remaining, time is running out for the fourth-place Raptors to move up in the Eastern Conference.
CAVALIERS 91, JAZZ 83
CLEVELAND: LeBron James scored 33 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter as Cleveland defeated Utah. Kevin Love played for the first time since having surgery on his left knee last month and scored 10 points in 19 minutes. But Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert left the game with injuries.
James was 13 of 20 from the field and had 10 rebounds with six assists. He also moved into 13th place all time in field goals in the fourth quarter, passing Tim Duncan.
Irving, who scored 21 points, didn’t play in the fourth quarter because of tightness in his left knee. Shumpert sprained his left shoulder in the third quarter.
Rudy Gobert led Utah with 20 points and 18 rebounds.
GRIZZLIES 103, HAWKS 91
ATLANTA: Marc Gasol had 18 points as part of his triple-double to help resurgent Memphis topped Atlanta. Gasol, who had 10 rebounds and 10 assists, reached the triple-double with his assist on JaMychal Green’s 3-pointer with 3:10 remaining.
The Grizzlies have won three straight – including road games at Chicago and Atlanta on back-to-back nights – following a five-game losing streak. Mike Conley had 22 points and 12 assists, while Green added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Tim Hardaway Jr. led Atlanta with 18 points.
NETS 121, KNICKS 110
NEW YORK: Brook Lopez scored 24 points as the Brooklyn Nets dominated the second half to beat the Knicks for their second victory over their New York rivals in five days. The Nets made five straight 3-pointers during a 38-point third quarter, turning around the game after they were just 2 for 16 behind the arc in the first half.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 20 points and 10 rebounds for Brooklyn, which beat New York 120-112 at home on Sunday and earned a split of the city series after the Knicks won the first two meetings. Former Knicks star Jeremy Lin had 15 points and eight assists in his first game at Madison Square Garden this season.
Kyle O’Quinn came off the bench to score 23 points for the Knicks, who still haven’t won consecutive games in 2017.