MINNEAPOLIS — Russell Westbrook achieved his historic statistics, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are set as the sixth seed in the Western Conference with two games remaining.
Oklahoma City (46-34) and its star guard can now prepare for the playoffs. How the Thunder choose to prepare, heading into a road game Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, is unknown.
“I always take into consideration this time of year how a player feels physically, emotionally, mentally, and also how they feel like they’re playing,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan told the Oklahoman. “There’s some players that feel like every day you’re playing a game you stay in that rhythm.
“Whether it’s Andre (Roberson), Steven (Adams) or Russell, whoever it may be, those are conversations we’re going to have considering it looks like everything’s locked in (playoffs).”
The Timberwolves (31-49) are locked out of the postseason, again. A season filled with promise and moments of hope ends without the playoffs for the 13th straight season.
Excitement at season’s end will mostly come off the court on Tuesday, as the team will unveil a new logo in its final home game of the season.
Even with standout play from second-year center Karl-Anthony Towns and scoring wing Andrew Wiggins and a big step forward from point guard Ricky Rubio, Minnesota is left with disappointment mainly due to defensive inefficiencies.
Wiggins and Towns combined to score 82 points on Sunday. Towns’ 40-point, 21-rebound game was the first 40/20 game in team history, and Wiggins had 41 points for his fifth 40-point game of the season. They became the first teammates to each reach 40 points in the same game in franchise history and the first in the NBA to do it since Westbrook and Kevin Durant in 2015.
However, the Timberwolves lost to the Los Angeles Lakers (25-55) on D’Angelo Russell’s last-second 3-pointer.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Towns told the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the statistical accomplishments. “We went out there and got beat, so that history or those points don’t mean anything.”
The Lakers scored 32 points in the third quarter, shot 48.8 percent for the game and hit 10 3s. Minnesota lost its fourth straight game and has lost 11 of its past 14.
“It’s not just the last play,” Rubio told the Star Tribune. “Overall, we didn’t play with an edge, and we got what we deserved.”
According to the Oklahoman, Westbrook’s status for Tuesday was uncertain following a Monday practice in Minnesota.
Westbrook surpassed Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles in an NBA season with his 42nd coming Sunday. Westbrook hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to finish with 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
Westbrook will average a triple-double for the season and has played in every game for the Thunder this season.
“Blessed, very blessed,” Westbrook said after his third 50-point triple-double this season.
The Oklahoman reported that forward Doug McDermott will miss the Tuesday game with left knee soreness after he was sent back to Oklahoma City for an exam. Guard Alex Abrines was at practice on Monday and is listed as questionable due to a left knee sprain.