Thunder’s Westbrook could move into solo third in triple-doubles vs. Nets
NEW YORK — The next triple-double for Russell Westbrook will give him sole possession of third place on the NBA career list.
Westbrook’s 107 triple-doubles are tied with Jason Kidd, a familiar name to Nets fans as the team’s short-lived head coach.
Westbrook gets his third chance to move past Kidd on the list Wednesday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the struggling Nets.
Westbrook tied Kidd a week ago against the Cleveland Cavaliers when he totaled 23 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists. He just missed getting his 108th triple-double Friday when he finished with 23 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks.
Oklahoma City is 88-19 when Westbrook gets a triple-double. He has three so far this season.
Westbrook posted a triple-double on Nov. 21 in a 28-point win at Golden State and another one in a seven-point loss to Denver on Nov. 24 before getting his third last week.
Many nights Oklahoma City did not need a triple-double out of Westbrook and Monday was another instance. In a 110-83 win at Detroit, Westbrook scored 11 of his 18 points in the third quarter when the Thunder outscored the Pistons by a 37-19 margin.
During the third quarter, Oklahoma City forced six turnovers and held Detroit to 7-of-20 shooting, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range. In each game of the win streak, it produced at least one dominant quarter such as outscoring Atlanta 38-20 in the second quarter and Cleveland 26-15 in the third quarter.
“When we defend at a high level like we’ve been doing all season, it’s easy for us to get what we want and get to our spots,” Westbrook said.
The dominant third quarter helped Oklahoma City improve to 14-3 in their last 17 games and get its third straight win. It also was the Thunder’s 10th double-digit win and fourth by at least 20 points.
It was the sixth instance where Oklahoma City shot at least 50 percent, and it remained unbeaten when doing so.
“I thought we played a very complete game,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said. “There were things we could have done better, but I’m pleased that we went on the road and played this well against a very good team.”
The Nets are experiencing massive struggles in the last three weeks. Playing complete games seems to elude Brooklyn, which carries a seven-game home losing streak since Nov. 4 against Philadelphia as well as a seven-game overall losing streak.
Brooklyn is 2-10 since losing Caris LeVert to a dislocated right foot in the final seconds of the first half on Nov. 12 at Minnesota.
The latest loss was a 99-97 setback to Cleveland on Monday. The Nets were flat most of the game but made a late 17-6 surge to tie the score, only to lose on a dunk by Alec Burks with 3.2 seconds remaining.
The Nets shot 39.9 percent, including 9 of 26 in the fourth quarter. Monday’s loss occurred after the Nets shot 37 percent in a 102-88 loss at Washington, where coach Kenny Atkinson cited poor shot selection as a cause because of not playing with pace and drifting through offensive sets.
The offense continues to be a problem for the Nets.
During the seven-game losing streak, the Nets are scoring 105.9 points, shooting 42.8 percent (266 of 621) and hitting 32 percent of their 3-pointers. An area they are particularly struggling in is shots in the paint outside the restricted area (37 of 113, 32.7 percent) and layups (45 of 119, 37.8 percent)
“We’re struggling offensively,” Atkinson said. “I thought we missed a lot of open shots, but we don’t have a rhythm right now. I think we’re off rhythm and we got to try to find it.”
D’Angelo Russell scored 30 points and is averaging 19.6 points since the Nets lost LeVert. Russell also is shooting 40.2 percent (88 of 219) since then. When he went 13 of 31, it was the fourth time he took at least 25 shots.
“We’ve had adversity throughout this year that we’re still trying to overcome,” Russell said. “Digging ourselves out of holes is what we’re trying to do now.”
The Nets played without Joe Harris (left adductor tightness) for the third straight game, but it seems that he will play Wednesday after he participated in a full practice Tuesday. Without Harris, the Nets shifted Allen Crabbe to the frontcourt and started Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie in the backcourt.
Another player who could see some time again is rookie Rodions Kurucs, who scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Westbrook owns two triple-doubles against the Nets on March 14, 2017, in Brooklyn (25 points, 19 assists and 12 rebounds) and Nov. 18, 2016, at home (30 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds).