The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the fourth quarter down double-digits to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. Then, Russell Westbrook happened.
Westbrook rewrote the record books with 57 points to go along with 13 rebounds and 11 assists — the most points in a triple-double in NBA history. In fact, his spectacular night was just the 10th triple-double of 50 or more points in NBA history. Six of those belong to Wilt Chamberlain. Westbrook and Harden each have two, with all four of those coming this season.
The Thunder point guard was outstanding when his team needed him the most against the Magic, but he was far from flawless. He nearly shot Oklahoma City out of the game with an awful 3-pointer in the closing minute of regulation before forcing overtime on a ridiculous 35-footer — the full Westbrook experience.
— NBA (@NBA) March 30, 2017
With his teammates floundering much of the night, Russ took the onus on himself to pull out a 114-106 win. That’s kind of his M.O. as the sole leader of this Thunder squad, after all. He’s talented enough to beat most teams in the Association through sheer force of will, even when the rest of the team falls flat.
Westbrook on having the highest-scoring triple-double ever tonight: pic.twitter.com/P1y02FIqm0
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) March 30, 2017
Or so it goes in the regular season. In the postseason, the Thunder’s utter dependence on him spells disaster.
Opponents will key in on Oklahoma City’s one-man show, forcing Westbrook to make impossible shot after impossible shot. He’ll do everything he can — but sooner than later, he’ll run out of gas.
There’s seemingly no other choice. Where some players are the heart and soul of their teams, Westbrook is the Thunder’s entire anatomy. Is he really supposed to concede shots on pressure-packed possessions to guys such as Steven Adams, Enes Kanter and Victor Oladipo? Really?
In a word, yes. Defeat is inevitable if he goes it alone. The only way the Thunder can change their destiny is to change their approach to the game. That starts with Westbrook. If he’s really the NBA MVP, let’s see him make his teammates better when the games matter the most.