OKLAHOMA CITY — The last time Russell Westbrook played in front of his home fans, he tied the NBA record for most triple-doubles in a season.
When the Oklahoma City point guard returns home Wednesday for the Thunder’s regular-season finale against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, he brings sole possession of the record.
However, Westbrook hasn’t changed his mindset on what it means to him.
Article continues below ...
“I know y’all are probably gonna get tired of me saying the same thing, but I promise you I’ve been blessed with so many things,” Westbrook told the Oklahoman. “This is another blessing. I never take it for granted. Every time you ask me, I’m gonna tell you the same thing because that’s what it is, and I’m so thankful to be doing the things I’m doing.”
With Westbrook pocketing his 42 triple-double Sunday in Denver to pass the great Oscar Robertson and the Thunder (47-34) locked into the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan did something he hasn’t done all year. He rested players Tuesday night in Minnesota.
Westbrook missed his first game of the season and was joined on the bench by Andre Roberson and Taj Gibson.
“He’s played 80 games. He’s been unbelievable in the way he’s played, the way he’s led,” Donovan said. “This was a game that, sitting down and talking to him and the medical staff, this was an opportunity. At the end of the day, he was the one who also thought that this would be a good day (to rest). Our medical staff agreed with him that this would be a great opportunity to get some rest.”
The Thunder still defeated the Timberwolves 100-98 behind 20 points and the game-winning shot from Victor Oladipo. Rookie Domantas Sabonis added 19 points.
There was no word on whether Donovan would keep starters on the bench Wednesday. However, he may want to give the Oklahoma City fans a chance to honor Westbrook and his record by allowing him to be introduced.
If there is one team that doesn’t want to see more of Westbrook this season, it is the Nuggets (39-42). His 50-point triple-double and game-winning 3-pointer from 36-feet out Sunday knocked Denver out of postseason contention.
It was Westbrook’s fourth straight triple-double versus Denver.
“I give him credit, he is a hell of a player and an MVP candidate,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
Denver, like Oklahoma City, is also playing a second night of a back-to-back to close out the regular season. The Nuggets won in Dallas 109-91 on Tuesday behind 20 points by Gary Harris.