Russell Westbrook made NBA history on Friday with his third triple-double in as many games, scoring 40 points while nabbing 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a losing effort. His Oklahoma City Thunder fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 115-112 before being kneed in the side of the face by teammate Andre Roberson during a fourth quarter rebound scramble with just over one second left on the game clock.
Westbrook’s performance has capped what has been one of the most dominant offensive displays during the month of February in NBA history, according to ESPN. Westbrook’s three consecutive triple-doubles marks the first time the feat has been accomplished since LeBron James did it during the 2009 season. Westbrook becomes only the fourth player in the last 20 years to achieve this accomplishment, joining James, Jason Kidd, and Grant Hill, who did so in 2008 and 1997, respectively.
Westbrook finished the month with averages of 31.2 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, and 10.3 assists per game with 12 games played, making him the second player in NBA history to average 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists per game for a calendar month with at least 10 games played. He joins NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, who accomplished the feat on eight separate occasions.
NewsOK asserts that Westbrook is amassing one of the most offensively dominant seasons of all time, and ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh presents numbers that make the assertion hard to refute.
“How good is Westbrook’s 29.2 Player Efficiency Rating this season? Of the 50 greatest players in NBA history that were named in 1996, 45 of them never posted a PER above 29 over a full season at any point of their career. Westbrook, as of now, is in the rarest of company.”
Popular opinion would suggest that much of Westbrook’s offensive surge has come due to Thunder teammate Kevin Durant missing significant playing time due to injury. However, Haberstroh, with help from former Thunder analytics guy and current ESPN Director of Analytics Benjamin Alamar, says otherwise.
“With Durant on the court, Westbrook is most valuable being aggressive, getting in the paint and drawing fouls. But without Durant, Westbrook is needed as a shooter as well as a driver. So Westbrook, even at his high-usage rate and partnered with Durant, is adding to the Thunder’s offensive efficiency. They need a lot of Westbrook and a lot of Durant to be successful; one doesn’t need to defer to the other.”
Following the fourth quarter scramble for a rebound off of a missed free throw, Westbrook laid face down on the court for several seconds before getting back to his feet. Westbrook sported a noticeable dent in the side of his head which ended up being a fracture of his zygomatic arch. Westbrook underwent a procedure to repair the dent immediately following the game, according to Marissa Payne of the Washington Post, and will miss Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers pending further evaluation.