OKLAHOMA CITY — In a season full of history, Russell Westbrook made a little more Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming the first player to record a triple-double while going perfect from the floor and the free throw line.
“Just play, honestly,” Westbrook said of his efficient night in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 122-97 win. “Just trying to take my time. [I] watched some film and just trying to pick my spots better. Find ways to get my teammates involved throughout the game. Just happy to win.”
Westbrook shot 6-of-6 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the free throw line, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists in 28 minutes.
“He really did a good job,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “You look at the stat line and it is an interesting stat line, isn’t it? It was eye-popping, but he just doesn’t go away.”
It’s the first game Westbrook ever has been perfect from the field, and it’s the first time in 83 games that he didn’t attempt a 3-pointer. The six shot attempts also tied a career low in games in which he played more than 20 minutes.
“He’s always trying to figure out what the game calls for, and he tries to go in there and do the very best job he can in leading, incorporating everybody else and finding his teammates,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s surveying what’s going on and what our team needs.”
In the third quarter, Westbrook actively turned down a couple of open looks from 3 to work the ball into the post.
“Just making sure I’m on balance before I shoot,” he said of the somewhat unusual shot discipline. “Sometimes I rush ‘em, but trying to prepare myself and make sure I’m taking on-balance shots.”
The 76ers struggled containing Westbrook in transition, where he would rebound misses and instantly turn them into fast-break opportunities for the Thunder. Of his career 72 triple-doubles, five have come against the Sixers, the most he has had against any one team.
“It’s not a one-person job [to guard him]. It’s an entire team,” Sixers guard T.J. McConnell said. “We just have to clog his driving lanes, and he’s going to get his. He averages a triple-double, for Chrissake, so it’s tough for us to stop him.”
Westbrook recorded his 35th triple-double of 2016-17 and 13th this season in three quarters or less. With 11 games to go, he is six away from tying Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles in a season. Westbrook is averaging 31.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game and is on pace to become the first player since Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double on the season.