Westbrook’s 33rd triple-double leads Thunder past Nets
NEW YORK -- For a moment, there was almost unilateral confusion among the Oklahoma City Thunder players.
Russell Westbrook grabbed a defensive rebound with 4:40 left in the fourth quarter and 13,911 in Barclays Center erupted before rising to their feet for a standing ovation.
“They were loud. I thought something happened,” Westbrook said. “I was wondering why they were screaming so loud. I thought they were giving something out in the crowd or something.”
That rebound was Westbrook’s 10th, which secured his 33rd triple-double of the season and helped lead the Thunder to a 122-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
“He got the rebound, but he didn’t beat anybody,” Thunder guard Alex Abrines said. “It was kind of like weird. It was like we were back in Oklahoma.”
In Oklahoma City is where the Thunder have thrived this season, going 25-9. On the road, it has been a different story. The Thunder came to Brooklyn on a seven-game road winless streak, a fact Westbrook reminded his team about Tuesday morning.
“As a team, if you want to win a championship, you have to win on the road, regardless of who you play, where you play, the situation, the weather, whatever it is you have to win on the road,” Westbrook said. “I made it very clear this morning that it was a key for us.”
A better defensive effort in the second half was the spark needed for the Thunder to secure their first win away from home since a 114-105 victory on Jan. 15 in New Orleans.
“I thought our defense was much better in the second half because it’s the multiple efforts you have to have against them,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “They’re always trying to take you off the dribble and they a lot of guards who can do that.”
Center Brook Lopez scored 25 points, guard Jeremy Lin had a season-high 24 points and rookie forward Caris LeVert added 16 points for the Nets (12-54), who have yet to win consecutive games this season.
The Nets played even with the Thunder (38-29) in the first half but were outscored by nine in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth and were outrebounded 44-30.
“I think their physicality wore us down,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I thought our guys competed, but credit to them. They came out and really got after us and we couldn’t really run our stuff.”
Guard Victor Oladipo scored 21 points, Brooklyn native Taj Gibson had 17 points and eight rebounds, center Enes Kanter had 17 points and Steven Adams added 11 points for the Thunder, who won their third straight game and beat the Nets for the second time this season.
“They’re definitely physical,” Lin said. “I think they were just wearing on us on the boards.”
But it was another inspired performance by Westbrook, who had 25 points, 19 assists and 12 rebounds to move within eight of tying Oscar Robertson’s NBA record of 41 triple-doubles in a season, that lifted the Thunder.
A native New Yorker, Donovan wasn’t surprised about the reaction Westbrook received from the fans in Brooklyn. That’s because they shared the same appreciation he had in Westbrook’s game Tuesday night.
“I thought he had incredible poise tonight,” Donovan said. “I thought he generated shots for everybody. He made the game easy for everybody. He rebounded the ball, he scored when he needed to. He’s always surveying the game. ... He put his fingerprints all over the game in so many ways different ways in my opinion.”
NOTES: Thunder coach Billy Donovan and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson have a long history, both growing up in Long Island. “Kenny’s brother Mike and I worked together for a year at Kentucky. He was an assistant coach there. I’ve known Kenny, his story and his career very well.” ... Thunder F Taj Gibson, who is from Fort Greene, has impressed Donovan since he arrived from Chicago in a trade last month. Gibson, who is averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in nine games with Oklahoma City, was cleared to play after suffering a hip injury against Utah on Saturday. ... G Joe Harris (concussion/sprained left shoulder) was out for the Nets. G Sean Kilpatrick played seven minutes in the first half before leaving with a sore left hamstring. ... The Nets head to Manhattan to face the Knicks on Thursday. ... The Thunder remain on the road to face the Raptors on Thursday.