Westbrook's 5th straight triple-double lifts Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) A few weeks ago, Michael Jordan helped induct Russell Westbrook into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and called himself a fan of the Thunder guard's game.
Now, Westbrook has accomplished something no one has since Jordan – he became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Jordan had seven straight in 1989. Westbrook had 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists on Sunday night, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92.
The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch, and 26 of 28 the past two years when he gets one. Westbrook said he doesn't worry about the numbers.
''I just play, honestly,'' he said. ''I don't want to get in a conversation of if I'm going to do it every night. I just go out and compete at a high level every night, like I've been doing since I've been in the NBA.''
Westbrook is still averaging a triple-double for the season with averages of 31.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 11.3 assists through 21 games. It was his 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.
He's more concerned with the fact that the Thunder have recovered from a rough stretch and improved to 13-8.
''I just like to win, brother,'' he said. ''Honestly, that's the most important part. Making sure my guys are good, and making sure everybody's happy with their games, and making sure we win the game.''
Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.
Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans.
Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state. The last time he had played in Oklahoma, he scored 36 points to help the Sooners beat VCU and advance to the Sweet 16. In this game, he made 6 of 12 shots and 4 of 7 3-pointers.
''I haven't felt like that in a long time,'' Hield said. ''It's so great to get back in there and get a rhythm and see the ball go through the net. I've been struggling the last couple games, but I feel more confident.''
Oklahoma City led 49-41 at halftime. Westbrook had 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists at the break, and Davis kept the Pelicans in it with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Westbrook threw down a vicious right-handed jam on a drive down the middle in the third quarter that gave Oklahoma City a 57-47 lead. He clinched the triple-double on an assist to Kanter for a dunk with 2:14 left in the third quarter. The Thunder took a 78-66 lead into the fourth quarter.
Hield drained a 3-pointer to cut Oklahoma City's lead to four with just under two minutes to go, but Westbrook's 3 with 51.3 seconds to go bumped the Thunder's lead back to 99-92.
''We were still right there, and given the opportunity, Russell's going to make a big play,'' Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. ''The big 3-pointer that he made was probably the difference in the game,''
Pelicans: G Jrue Holiday started for just the third time this season. He missed the first 12 games while his wife, former U.S. women's national team soccer player Lauren Holiday, recovered from surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. … The Pelicans shot just 36.7 percent from the field.
Thunder: Made 14 of 15 2-point shots and missed all nine of their 3-pointers in the first quarter. … C Steven Adams sprained his left ankle in the first quarter and did not return. … The Thunder missed all 15 3-point attempts in the first half, then made 6 of 13 in the second. … Westbrook leads active players in career triple-doubles.
Thunder forward Andre Roberson matched a season high with 14 points on his 25th birthday. He made 6 of 8 shots and fell one point short of his career high.
Hield got a standing ovation when he checked in late in the first half.
''I have so much respect I have to pay to Oklahoma,'' he said. ''This is home to me. Every time I come back, they embrace me well, like the warm welcome they gave me. I had a lot of jitters.''
Pelicans: Host the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.
Thunder: Play at the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .