No triple double needed in Thunder win over Celtics

(Photo by Torry Purvey)

By Michael Kinney

OKLAHOMA CITY — With the recent run of triple-doubles Russell Westbrook has been piling up, it has become expected that he would get one every night he touched the floor. And for almost two weeks, that seemed to be the case.
However, Westbrook proved Sunday that he doesn’t have to just get triple-doubles to dominate games. The Oklahoma City guard scored 13 fourth-quarter points to lead the Thunder to a 99-96 comeback victory over the Boston Celtics at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“We have got to be able to close the door,” Westbrook said. “We are not going to be able to blow teams out like we used to. We have got to grind it out.”
Westbrook complied 37 points, 12 rebounds and six assists to end his triple-double streak at seven straight. But his coach said the numbers don’t tell the whole story of what Westbrook did to ensure the victory.
“I’ll say this about the triple-doubles, because I always find this interesting,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “On a night like tonight, does it make it any less special if he had a couple of more assists. I get all the stuff and people wanting to talk about it. But he did a lot of different things that impacted the game at a high level.”
Steven Adams added 16 points and eight rebounds while Enes Kanter came off the bench to score 14 points as the Thunder improved to 15-9.
Al Horford paced the Celtics with 19 points and six rebounds. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley each posted 18 points as Boston dropped to 13-11.
Marcus Smart was held to 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting and said the frustration is growing with all of the losses to the top teams in the league. However, coach Brad Stevens offered a different point of view.
“If you get too down or too discouraged 24 games in,” Stevens said, “then maybe you’re not built for this.”
With 3:20 left in the fourth quarter, Adams completed a 3-point play to cut the deficit to 90-89. Bradley responded with a jumper on the other end
With Bradley guarding him, Westbrook drained a 3-pointer to tie the game. But once again Bradley answered with a put-back. Westbrook tied the game with 1:20 on the clock. Boston gave the ball to Horford, but he had his shot blocked by Adams.
The Thunder got the ball with 39 seconds left. Westbrook slithered down the lane to the front of the rim for a layup and Oklahoma City led 96-94.
Bradley missed his layup attempt, but tied up Westbrook for a jump ball. Westbrook won the tip and tapped the ball ahead and it found its way into the hands of Jerami Grant, who threw down a rim-shaking, two-handed dunk with 14.4 seconds left in the game.
The Celtics cut the lead down to two, but Westbrook hit 1 of 2 free throws. Smart had a chance to tie, but his 3-point attempt missed.
Westbrook, who leads the league in fourth quarter scoring, had 13 in the quarter.
After the Celtics jumped out to a quick lead, Thunder coach Billy Donovan changed the tempo of the game. He inserted his big line that included the combination of Adams, Kanter and Joffrey Lauvergne playing side by side. Oklahoma City slowed the game and allowed their bigs to work in the paint.
Westbrook got into the mix by posting up Bradley and Smart.
Right before the end of the first quarter, Oklahoma City’s Victor Oladipo took a hard fall while contesting a shot in front of the team’s bench. After laying on his back for a few minutes, he was slowly helped back to the locker room. That was the end of his night.
The Celtics stayed with their game plan. They moved the ball around with crisp passing until it got into the hands of an open player behind the 3-point line. Boston made five from long range in the first half to secure a 43-39 halftime advantage.
With Oladipo unable to play, rookie Alex Abrines and Kyle Singler saw action for the first time in weeks. They, along with Kanter, Lauvergne and Semaj Christon, closed the deficit to 71-67 heading into the fourth.
“We were going inside to Enes quite a bit and they decided to trap the post,” Donovan said. “We had to have some shooters on the floor. It was really to create some space on offense because they were sending people into the lane.”

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