Russell Westbrook’s fourth straight triple-double lifts Thunder past Jazz

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder feared the worst during his pregame media session as he considered how to handle Russell Westbrook, the triple-double machine and league scoring leader.

During the pregame, Snyder said he hoped Westbrook wouldn’t get a triple-double on Tuesday night, but added that he “probably will.” Westbrook validated his concerns, posting a triple-double and scoring 12 of his 43 points in the final 2:05 to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 109-106 on Tuesday night.

Westbrook had 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his 30th triple-double of the season and 67th of his career. It was his fourth straight triple-double, and the team’s fourth consecutive win. It also was his fifth triple-double with at least 40 points this season.

“He played great,” Snyder said after the game. “That’s who he is.”

Doug McDermott scored 16 points and Enes Kanter added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who trimmed Utah’s Northwest Division lead to two games.

Westbrook made a three-pointer with 38.1 seconds remaining, then scored and was fouled on a transition layup with 15.5 seconds to play. He completed the three-point play to give the Thunder a 108-106 lead.

“Many years, that was our problem — being able to execute and get the shots we wanted to,” Westbrook said. “I think that’s a part of my job, is to make sure we execute down the stretch.”

After Jerami Grant hit one of two free throws with a second left, Gordon Hayward missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that could have forced overtime. Hayward led the Jazz with 19 points.

Oklahoma City, which entered the night last in the NBA in three-point percentage, made 15 of 22 threes.

“You just keep getting those guys shots,” Westbrook said. “The ball will find the shooter, and I think guys are doing a tremendous job of making the right plays, getting those guys open shots.”

The Thunder made their first 12 three-pointers to take a 61-53 lead at halftime. Oklahoma City became the first team since the Seattle SuperSonics in 1998 to make its first 12 shots from behind the arc. The Thunder also set a high for three-pointers in any half since the move from Seattle in 2008.

Westbrook opened his second-half scoring by getting fouled on a made three-pointer. The Thunder continued to shoot well and led 86-75 at the end of the third.

The Jazz rallied and took the lead in the fourth quarter to set up the tight finish. Utah led 106-102 with 48 seconds remaining.

“They made a fight,” Westbrook said. “They’re a great team. I thought we did a good job of keeping our composure and executing down the stretch.”

source:usatoday.com

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