Wednesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New York Knicks 116-105 behind another dominating performance from Russell Westbrook. The game from Westbrook — from a statistical standpoint — was rather run-of-the-mill. But from an impact standpoint, it was exceptional.
Following the Knicks hot start — they outscored the Thunder 39-27 in the first quarter — was the Westbrook show. Westbrook poured in 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists on 13/22 from the field as the Thunder outscored the Knicks in each of the succeeding quarters.
While 30+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 10+ assists is rather humdrum for Westbrook these days, this game was further corroboration that Westbrook is not merely a “stat-padder” just looking to rack up as many points, rebounds, and assists as he can.
Westbrook’s strong statistical outputs — and there are many — have gone a long way in determining whether the Thunder would be going home winners or losers at the conclusion of each game. There’s no greater evidence to support this statement than the following: This season, when Russell Westbrook has a triple-double the Thunder are 21-6. When Westbrook fails to record a triple-double, the Thunder are 11-19.
From those numbers, you get the point. But to further that point, think of this: The Thunder’s win percentage when Westbrook records a triple-double (.777) is actually better than the San Antonio Spurs on the season (.768) — they’re 43-13 and on pace to win 63 games. The Thunder’s win percentage when Westbrook doesn’t record a triple-double (.366) is on par with the Philadelphia 76ers (.378) — they’re headed to the lottery for the 76th straight year!
When Westbrook is “stat-padding” his team is better than the second best team in basketball. And when he’s not, his team is worse than the worst team of the past five years. Did I just obliterate the notion that Westbrook is a “stat-padder” whose insane numbers don’t result in wins? I think so.
With the win over the Knicks, the Thunder gained some much-needed momentum going into the all-star break. The Thunder now have 25 games remaining and could surely use a boost in the standings so to avoid the vaunted Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. Some rest for the Thunder’s “stat-padding” triple-double machine over the all-star break will almost certainly help this mission.
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