By Michael Kinney
Russell Westbrook has been on a triple-double tear before. Just last year he had a span of triple doubles that had the league standing up and taking notice of his talents.
But that seemed to just be a precursor for what the all-star point guard was planning for this season.
Monday night Westbrook racked up his 16th triple double of the season during an 119-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the second best team in the Eastern Conference. His 26 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds tied him with Fat Lever for the most triple doubles in a season during the last 30 years.
Westbrook heads into Tuesday night’s contest with the Detroit Pistons needing only one more triple double to tie Magic Johnson for the most in a season in the last three decades. According to Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN Stats & Info, Westbrook tied Michael Jordan as the only player in league history to rack up seven triple-doubles in a month. Westbrook has two more games this month to break that record.
Westbrook won’t admit to make any concerted effort to get triples doubles, yet he does recognize the rarefied air he is approaching when he joins any conversation that includes Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.
Coach Billy Donovan says Westbrook is just doing whatever his team needs of him.
“I think Russell says this all the time, he’s going to try and do what the team needs and the game needs,” Billy Donovan said Saturday after the Thunder beat San Antonio. “I thought his energy tonight lifted our team.”
Westbrook’s 16th triple double also pushed Oklahoma City’s record to 16-0 when he hits those marks. However, he doesn’t known if there is a correlation between the two.
“I’m not sure man, I am just trying to find the right way to play,” Westbrook said after his 15th triple double. “A lot of those games are big games for us to just come out with the win.”
Even though Westbrook has been getting triple-doubles, they seem to be having a bigger impact during the Thunder’s current win streak. The victory over Toronto pushed it to eight straight games in the win column.
“The only thing I would say about that, is that it shows Russ’s ability night in and night out to bring incredible energy and passion because you have to have energy to go rebound the basketball, you have to have energy to put the ball in the basket,” Donovan said. “You have to have energy to get guys shots. I think it’s attributed to his efficiency and the way he has played this year. I think he has been very productive and effective where he has not had to take a high volume of shots.”