Westbrook secures triple-double average, falls short of 42nd

Coach Gregg Popovich elected to leave most of his big guns home as Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol were given the night off.

Six assists didn't come quickly.

The Celtics, who were up handily, could have double or triple-teamed the Suns guard to stop him from scoring.

Per Basketball Reference, he's the first player ever listed under 6-foot-7 to average double-digit rebounds. The Nuggets offense has been one of the league's most potent since after their game against the Thunder in January. Only Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson had averaged a triple-double before.

The dynamic Thunder guard fell two assists shy of what would have been his 42nd in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 120-99 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Apparently, they thought Russell Westbrook would just fall off the map and that he wasn't good enough to lead a team. That is the definition of Westbrook this season. Of his five turnovers in the first quarter, three came in the first three minutes. That means Westbrook has three chances to break Oscar Robertson's record of 41 triple doubles in a campaign.

The environment didn't quite reflect the numbers, though.

Russell Westbrook has been in basically a two-man race for NBA MVP with James Harden all season long. They extended to Orlando.

Westbrook accomplished his triple-double average while playing almost 10 fewer minutes and around 25 fewer possessions per game than Robertson.

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Ellenson finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds in his first career start.

The chanting only got quirky from there. The Hawks recorded 39 assists. Enes Kanter traveled. Domantas Sabonis missed a jumper.

The setting wanted to be iconic. "There's just absolutely no way", Rockets guard Eric Gordon said Wednesday, after Harden scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, including the clinching 3-pointer, in a 110-104 victory over the Nuggets.

Last year Mark Cuban even went as far to say that Russell Westbrook is not a superstar. While Westbrook may be essential to his team, deeming the sixth seed successful is a stretch.

He'd find a teammate, and the crowd would collectively scream some form of "Shoot it!" Everyone needs to show up today, but Gallinari is one of the most important pieces to show, simply because the Nuggets need production from the small forward position to balance out the rest of the rotation.

The Mavericks, playing their fourth game since getting eliminated from the playoffs, pulled Dirk Nowitzki and other veterans in the second half, when the Spurs outscored Dallas 52-28 after trailing by 16 points in the first half.

Westbrook leads the league in usage rate (41.7 percent) this season and carries an incredible workload on offense for the Thunder.

"The thing that I think is really great for our team, and the thing that any coach wants from his team, is to have a never-say-die attitude and to work and to be relentless and passionate and to play all the way to the final buzzer", Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said recently. The Oklahoma City Thunder have the ninth-quickest pace (97.8) mostly because of Westbrook, but the fact that he's been able to reign in a triple-double for the season is staggering because of his low-minutes allocation. It's real now. Fitting that it took an eccentric night for it to happen.