Thunder clinch playoff spot, Westbrook needs 16 rebounds in finale to average triple-double
MIAMI (AP) — Paul George scored 27 points, Russell Westbrook got his 25th triple-double of the season and the Oklahoma City Thunder clinched a playoff spot with a 115-93 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night.
Westbrook finished with 23 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists for the Thunder, who were down 18 in the opening minutes before outscoring the Heat 39-12 in the fourth.
The 27-point margin was the third-worst for any quarter in Heat history, and the worst ever in a game at Miami.
Josh Richardson scored 18 points and Hassan Whiteside added 16 for the Heat, whose playoff seed won’t be decided until the season-finales Wednesday. Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson each scored 12 for Miami, and James Johnson added 11.
For George, it was a rare win in Miami — his Indiana teams were 2-18 overall and 0-10 in regular-season contests when he faced the Heat on the road.
Westbrook needs 16 rebounds in the Thunder finale Wednesday to average a triple-double for the second straight season.
The Thunder missed their first 10 shots, gave up the game’s first 12 points and wound up trailing by 18 during the opening quarter. They eventually settled in and got the deficit down to single-digits late in the first.
And from there, it stayed that way.
Miami’s lead was down to three by halftime, and Oklahoma City tied the game twice in the third quarter — only to have the Heat immediately answer with bursts, first an 8-0 spurt after the initial tie, then a 5-0 run to take an 81-76 lead into the fourth.
Corey Brewer‘s driving layup with 10:28 left put the Thunder on top for the first time all night, 85-84. Before long, it became a runaway.
Thunder: Westbrook’s first point gave him 2,000 for the season. He’s the 49th player to get there in consecutive seasons, and only the second player with 2,000 points and 800 assists in back-to-back years. The other is Oscar Robertson, who did it five times. … Alex Abrines, who made the first Thunder field-goal attempt on the team’s 11th try, was held out of the second half with concussion symptoms.
Heat: Miami outscored Oklahoma City 58-32 in the paint but got to the foul line only 14 times — compared with 38 by the Thunder. … The Heat shot 5 for 22 from 3-point range.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade was presented with the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for March, recognizing his response to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union donated $200,000 toward getting students to the “March for Our Lives” event in Washington last month, and he’s reached out in multiple other ways to the families of victims and survivors. “I came back to this city at a time when I was needed, when my voice was needed,” Wade said.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sat midcourt with Heat CEO Nick Arison, his former manager with the Blue Devils. Coach K was one of three accomplished college coaches at the game; Rick Pitino was also there, near Thunder coach Billy Donovan — who played guard on Providence’s 1987 Final Four team (coached by Pitino), and a two-time NCAA title winner at Florida before going to Oklahoma City.
Thunder: Host Memphis on Wednesday.
Heat: Host Toronto on Wednesday.