Russell Westbrook secured his place in history in Phoenix on Friday when he recorded his sixth assist of the night. But Suns players weren't about to let him set an all-time record on their home floor.
Westbrook has officially locked up a triple-double average for the season and is one triple-double away from breaking Oscar Robertson's 55-year-old record for the most recorded in a single NBA season. Players on the opposing team knew it, and believed that Westbrook knew it, too -- to the point where he was passing up open shots late in a blowout loss to try to pick up those remaining two assists.
The Suns fouled players who were on the receiving end of Westbrook's passes late in the game to make sure the milestone wouldn't be reached against them, and were happy to admit afterward that was the case.
"Fourth quarter, we had such a big lead and the only thing he needed was assists, so the whole game plan changed," Suns forward Jared Dudley told ESPN. "He was still in the game down 20, 25, and you could see he was being real passive, so we just stayed home; and if he was going to do a drop-off, we were going to foul and make them earn it. If he was going to earn it, it was going to be somewhere else.
"I hope he gets it, just not here, not versus us. We've dealt with enough problems this year, so to have another history against us and have to watch it 20 years from now, I'm glad it's not us."
"You don't want to be on the opposite end of history when things like that happen," Suns guard Tyler Ulis said. "Like when Devin dropped 70 [points last month against the Celtics], no matter what, Boston's going to be part of that. We didn't want that to happen on us."
And was Westbrook playing differently to try to chase down those stats?
"Yeah, he knew too," Ulis said. "That's all he was trying to do. He was wide open trying to find guys. We stuck to them, ran guys off the line and it didn't happen."
Westbrook, of course, denied chasing the record -- and did so in the most hilarious way possible.
"I mean, I was 6-for-25. [Expletive], I mean, what you want me to do?" Westbrook said. "I wasn't making the shots, so somebody else can help. My job is to see what's going on and try to find guys that make some shots, and maybe we can get something going. But it wasn't falling for me tonight."
Mark J. Rebilas
Devin Booker was a part of history himself earlier this season, when he scored 70 points against the Celtics in Boston. Ironically enough, the Suns did some things at the end of that game to pad Booker's scoring numbers as much as possible, and a few Celtics players took issue with the way that took place.
Suns head coach Earl Watson said at the time that if Boston didn't like what was happening, it should have done something about it -- and Booker said after his team's win over the Thunder that's exactly what Phoenix did against Westbrook.
"I'm a competitor, and I'm at my home arena, and you're hearing chants to another guy," Booker said. "Which I totally respect Russell. He brings it each and every night, and you can't discredit what he's been doing. I'm sure he's going to pass Oscar for the most triple-doubles. I just didn't want it to be here. I took that personal. Like I said, I'm a competitor. I'm sure if someone was chasing a record at home in OKC, he'd feel the same way.
"I want to see him reach history. Just not here in Phoenix."