NEW YORK — For the second consecutive season, the Oklahoma City Thunder are heading to New York when a blizzard is expected to hit.
From the Thunder’s perspective, the only blizzard they care about is Russell Westbrook’s statistics in a win.
Westbrook heads into the Tuesday game against the Brooklyn Nets with 32 triple-doubles, giving him the second most in a single season and putting him nine shy of Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson’s mark from the 1961-62 season.
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On Saturday, Westbrook posted his 32nd triple-double of the season with 33 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in a 112-104 win over the Utah Jazz. He brook a tie with Wilt Chamberlain (1967-68) for the second-most triple-doubles in a season. The Thunder are 26-6 when Westbrook gets a triple-double and 59-10 in his 69 career triple-doubles.
“They are historic numbers you are talking about — Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson — two of the greatest players to play the game,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “They are impactful in the game. And I think that when Russell’s career is done, whenever that time is, he is a guy that you are going to look at and say that what he’s done throughout his career is historic.”
Thunder guard Victor Oladipo said, “It doesn’t surprise any of us in this locker room, but it’s still historic, man. It’s unbelievable. I’m honored to be able to play alongside him.”
Last year, nearly 30 inches of snow fell in New York on Jan. 23. The Thunder made it from Dallas to Brooklyn for a game that was originally slated to start in the afternoon on Jan. 24.
The game was pushed back four hours, and the Thunder wound up with a 116-106 loss.
This time, projected snowfalls have New York getting up to 18 inches of snow, and the Thunder made it from Oklahoma City on Monday to start a short trip that takes them to Toronto on Thursday.
The game is expected to be played.
In other instances, a makeup date might be April 3 when the league keeps the schedule clear to avoid going up against the NCAA championship game. Playing on April 3 would force both teams to play four straight days, and a rescheduled game Wednesday is not feasible due to a Green Day concert in Barclays Center.
The teams do not have any common days off.
Regardless of weather, Oklahoma City heads to Brooklyn after allowing 92 points and 104 points in home wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz. Those victories occurred after the Thunder allowed 115.5 points and posted a 114.7 defensive rating in a four-game losing streak March 2-7.
Besides Westbrook’s latest triple-double, others had a hand in the win over Utah.
Oladipo added 22 points in his second game back from a six-game absence that was caused by back spasms, Enes Kanter added 16 and Taj Gibson contributed 15. While Westbrook shot 9 of 26, Oladipo, Kanter and Gibson made a combined 23 of 36 shots.
Only one of Westbrook’s career triple-doubles occurred against the Nets. In a 124-105 win on Nov. 18, he posted 30 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. In last year’s visit to Brooklyn, Westbrook recorded 27 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Brook Lopez is the lone remaining Net to appear in the last meeting with Oklahoma City in Brooklyn. Lopez posted 31 points and 10 rebounds and did not take a 3-pointer.
On Sunday, Lopez made his first six 3-point attempts and led seven Nets in double figures with 25 points during a 120-112 win over the New York Knicks. He became the 12th player to get at least 100 3-pointers and 100 blocked shots in a season and the third this year, joining Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and New York’s Kristaps Porzingis.
The Nets (12-53) snapped a 16-game home losing streak that spanned 75 days since Dec. 26. They were returning home from a 2-6 road trip.
“We weren’t thinking about that at all,” Lopez said of the skid. “We felt we closed the road trip decently. We definitely felt we could have done better. We definitely think we’re turning the right way, and we needed to continue to do the right thing and have belief in each other as a group and as a team.”
Jeremy Lin, who was injured during the home losing streak, added nine of his 13 in the fourth quarter Sunday, including the game-clinching jumper in the final minute.
Brooklyn also tied a season-high with 19 3-pointers and won for the third time in nine games since the All-Star break.
“We didn’t even talk about it,” Nets forward Trevor Booker said. “We just felt like we had a couple of games on that road trip where we started playing some pretty good basketball, so we wanted to come home and just build off of that.”