Westbrook first since Jordan to record four-straight triple-doubles

Brett Brown made his way over to the scorer’s table, hoisted himself up and made himself comfortable.

Maybe, as the MVP chants and the crowd noise mingled together in a delicious combination that made up a Thunder rally, the Philadelphia 76ers coach wanted to just sit and watch for a second. You know, kind of take it all in.

On the other side of the court, Kevin Durant in his spring casual collection he’s been showing off lately from his spot right next to the uniformed Thunder players, got out of his chair and smiled, put his arms over his head, turned to the crowd and asked for more.

More? Seriously? Does Russell Westbrook have more than what he’s already given so far? Asking seems greedy, but then again Westbrook has fed the starving Thunder and quenched a dusty thirst. 

"We expect him to play well," said Nick Collison. "We know what he’s capable of."

In February we all saw what Collison meant as Westbrook averaged numbers only matched by Oscar Robertson. But on a Wednesday in March, Westbrook went beyond.

On the same day he was named the Western Conference Player of the Month, Westbrook made a holes-free case that he’s playing better than anyone in the world. No one since Michael Jordan has played at this level. Not Kobe or LeBron. Not last year’s MVP, Kevin Durant. No one has had four-consecutive triple-doubles since you wanted to be like Mike back in 1989. Wilt Chamberlain did it a record nine-straight times. Thing is, that doesn’t really seem un-gettable at this point for Westbrook.

You saw it in the 123-118 overtime victory. You know it, too. 

"You walk a line of frustration and one where you become a fan," said Philly coach Brett Brown, who did just that when he took a seat and watched like the rest of us. "You look at that and scratch your head. He delivers there, and you blink, and he’s stealing a kick-ahead pass. So incredibly gifted and so competitive. It’s a fantastic combination."

In football, they call it a Heisman Moment. For you, Wednesday was one where you’ll say, "Remember When Russ did that?" Unforgettable even in a season full of "Can you believe what Russ just did?"

Westbrook had a career-high 49 points, he had a career-best 16 rebounds less than one week after getting surgery on his face. Even while masked in protective gear, held in place by a headband pulled down so low it appeared he was half-blind, Westbrook dazzled with a combination of moments, surges and effort.  

"Like a 12," Westbrook said of his frustration on a scale of 1-to-10 on having to wear a mask. "But we’re winning. We’re winning games. That’s the most-important part."

There was talk about Westbrook sitting this one out. Taking it easy. After all, lowly, 13-win Philly was in town. But this isn’t the kind of season where Westbrook has held back. So he didn’t on Wednesday. The rest of the Thunder starters combined for exactly 12 points, so Westbrook took over. Down 16 points with less than 16 minutes to play, Westbrook rallied his team and then took the lead in the league’s scoring race.

And we’re debating the MVP? The Thunder started 3-12 and were lifeless and stagnant without Westbrook who missed all of November. 

Now, Westbrook has all of the emotion, all of the congratulations. All of the wins. Momentum is his. The Thunder, without Durant who has missed 33 of 60 games this season, seem like they have some real teeth, because of Westbrook. Durant asked for more. Westbrook seems acutely able to provide it.

"For those of you, including myself, that thought Russell might need a few games to get used to the mask," coach Scott Brooks said. "We were wrong."

For those of who were there Wednesday night, we saw history.

Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK


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