Westbrook’s 19th triple-double not enough for Thunder vs Wolves
Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook’s 19th triple-double of the season wasn’t enough on Friday as the Thunder fell 96-86 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.
Westbrook, the NBA’s leading scorer and top candidate for Most Valuable Player honors as the season approaches the halfway stage, scored 21 points with 11 rebounds and 12 assists in 36 minutes on the court.
His 19 triple-doubles already this season are the most in one campaign in almost 50 years, since Wilt Chamberlain posted 31 in the 1967-68 season.
He moved past Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who notched 18 triple-doubles in the 1981-82 season and inched closer to Oscar Robertson’s single-season record of 41 set in 1961-62.
With 56 career triple-doubles Westbrook is closing in on Larry Bird (59) for fifth on the all-time list.
But on Friday, he also had 10 of the Thunder’s 19 turnovers, which led to 33 points for Minnesota.
“Just some miscues, my fault on my passes,” Westbrook said. “Some was open, some was not, but it happens.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan said the turnovers were key.
“We didn’t finish well enough on the break,” Donovan said. “You’re going to have games where you don’t shoot the ball particularly well from the three-point line. That was one of those games.
“But I thought the turnovers, coupled with the fact that we just could not make any plays around the basket when we needed to, hurt us.”
Karl-Anthony Towns notched his 10th straight double-double with 29 points and 17 rebounds and Minnesota’s Spanish guard Ricky Rubio added 14 points and 14 assists.
Andrew Wiggins added 10 points for the Timberwolves, who won their third straight.
The Timberwolves led by as many as nine in the fourth quarter but were down by five at halftime.
But they rallied in the third quarter, and pushed their advantage to as many as 14 points early in the fourth period.
Rubio’s six points and seven assists in the third quarter keyed the Timberwolves’ rally.
With 46 assists in the three games, Rubio set a club record and matched the most for a player in a three-game span in the NBA this season. Westbrook had the same total in a trio of games in November.
“Playing better, feeling better,” Rubio said. “The results are there.”
Oklahoma City narrowed the gap to 92-83 on Westbrook’s steal and dunk with 1:46remaining, but Wiggins and Towns scored the next four points.
“When you’ve got confidence, there’s nothing better than a talented player with confidence,” Towns said.
“Those are the most dangerous players. I think right now we have a lot of confidence. So right now we’re just rolling with it.”
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