Coming off yet another triple-double, Russell Westbrook continues to post eye-popping numbers with Kevin Durant sidelined.
While the injury-plagued Los Angeles Clippers have managed to hold their own without Blake Griffin, the going could get tough with Chris Paul banged up.
Westbrook tries to lead the Thunder to a season-best eighth consecutive home win Wednesday night against the Clippers as these Western Conference foes meet for the third and final time.
Article continues below ...
Durant (foot) has only appeared in 27 games for Oklahoma City (35-28), but it has won six of nine during his most recent absence with Westbrook leading the charge. This year’s All-Star game MVP has five triple-doubles in the last six games, a stretch over which he’s averaging 36.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 11.0 assists.
"It crosses my mind when we win, which is the most important thing," he said of his recent accomplishments.
Westbrook finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and a career high-tying 17 assists in Sunday’s 108-104 victory over Toronto, Oklahoma City’s third in four games. He went 11 of 13 from the foul line, personally outscoring the Raptors by two as the Thunder improved to 19-3 over their last 22 at home.
"He’s playing unbelievable basketball right now," Raptors All-Star guard Kyle Lowry said. "The man is unbelievable, and he’s pretty much carrying their team right now."
Westbrook was 9 of 21 from the field as the Thunder improved to 8-0 since the beginning of February when he has fewer than 25 attempts. However, he also matched a career worst with nine turnovers, giving him 66 since Feb. 4 for the NBA’s second-worst mark.
He may need to take better care of the basketball if matched up with Paul, fourth in NBA history with 2.4 steals per game. Los Angeles’ All-Star point guard, however, is averaging a career worst-tying 1.8 this season, and he wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent in Monday’s 89-76 win over Minnesota.
Paul dished out 15 assists but was limited to two points on a season-worst 1-of-6 shooting while limping up and down the court.
It’s unclear how much he’ll play on the Clippers’ upcoming two-game road swing, including Friday’s matchup with Dallas.
"I couldn’t be as aggressive as I would like to. It just shows the depth of our team," he said. "I’ve just got to be smart about it. I don’t want to hurt the team, but if I can contribute and help the team, we need all the bodies we can get."
Los Angeles has gone 8-5 without Griffin, who is getting closer to returning after undergoing surgery to remove a staph infection from his right elbow. The Clippers (41-23) have also played their last three without Jamal Crawford (bruised calf), leaving them without a combined 38.9 points per game.
The Clippers have split two matchups against the Thunder, with each team winning at home. However, Durant didn’t play and Westbrook had two points before exiting with a fractured hand in the second quarter of a 93-90 loss at Staples Center on Oct. 30. The Thunder won 131-108 on Feb. 8 behind 29 points from Durant.
Westbrook had 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting that night but grabbed 11 rebounds. He leads the NBA with seven triple-doubles on the season, equaling the Clippers’ total since 2007-08.
Los Angeles will also need to be wary of Serge Ibaka, who has 46 points on 22-of-35 shooting in the last two games and 3.9 blocks over his last eight.
The Clippers are allowing an average of 102.4 points on the road compared to 97.8 at home. The Thunder are 17-2 on their own court when scoring over 100.