Russell Westbrook’s ability to fill up the box score has become one of the most underappreciated talents in the NBA.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard is closing in on a third consecutive season averaging a triple-double, an achievement accomplished only one other time in the NBA when Oscar Robertson did so in 1962.
But nights like Tuesday remind everyone of his greatness.
Russ joins Wilt
Westbrook tallied 20 points, 21 assists and 20 rebounds in a 119-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, recording the second 20-20-20 night in NBA history.
Wilt Chamberlain was the only other player to do so, recording 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists in 1968.
Westbrook dedicates game to Nipsey Hussle
Westbrook dedicated his performance to late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who died Sunday at 33 after being gunned down in Los Angeles.
“That wasn’t for me,” Westbrook told TNT after the game. “That was for my bro. That’s for Nipsey — 20 plus 20 plus 20.”
Westbrook’s dedication echoed his in-game sentiment for Nipsey when he secured his 20th rebound in the game’s final minute.
Westbrook, like Nipsey, grew up in Los Angeles and knew the late rapper.
“Somebody I looked up to, somebody that paved the way for a guy like myself growing up in the inner city,” Westbrook told TNT. “To have those conversations with him. I’m just truly saddened by the situation, just continue to pray for his family.”
Westbrook’s big game arrived during a key moment for the Thunder, who have struggled of late as they jockey for playoff positioning. Oklahoma City had gone 3-7 in its previous 10 games entering Tuesday and had fallen to the bottom of the tightly packed Western Conference playoff race.
Every win matters in playoff race
With the win, the Thunder improved to 45-33 to pick up a half game on the 44-33 San Antonio Spurs, who sit in 8th place in the West. They remain two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers.
Moving out of the bottom two playoff spots would likely mean avoiding the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, a goal that is surely on the minds of the teams at the bottom of the playoff standings.