LOS ANGELES: Russell Westbrook matched the NBA record with a ninth straight triple-double and Paul George scored 15 of his 45 points in the fourth-quarter on Saturday as the Oklahoma City Thunder roared back from a 26-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets.
Westbrook had 21 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds. His ninth straight triple-double — reaching double figures in three key statistical categories — matched the record set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.
Westbrook connected on just eight of 21 shots from the field. But his effort was enough to help the Thunder to the win despite a 42-point performance from Rockets star James Harden.
“My game is not predicated on me making shots,” Westbrook said. “I do other things to impact the game, I do it every single night.”
Harden produced 30 points for the 29th straight game — two shy of Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in league history but still a long way away from Chamberlain’s record stretch of 65 straight 30-point games.
Harden made 11 of 28 shots from the field and 14 of 15 free throws, but the streak took a backseat as the game evolved into a fourth-quarter dogfight.
The final period featured seven lead changes. Westbrook’s layup put Oklahoma City ahead 113-112 with 26.9 seconds left to play.
Harden then missed a three-point attempt and George corralled the rebound and was fouled.
He made two free-throws before Houston turned over the ball and the Thunder held on for the win. The Rockets had appeared headed for a romp when they took a 70-48 lead into halftime.
But they made just six of their 18 shots in the third period, including just one three-pointer.
“We had our chances but we didn’t finish up,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We came out flat the second half for whatever reason.”
There was a big comeback in Boston as well as the new-look Los Angeles Clippers erased a 28-point second-quarter deficit to stun the Celtics 123-112. Montrezl Harrell forced two turnovers and Patrick Beverley hit two three-pointers in the final two minutes as the Clippers completed the biggest regular-season comeback in club history.
Boston players left the court to boos from their home fans. To make matters even worse, Celtics star guard Kyrie Irving departed less than three minutes before halftime with what the Celtics said was a sprained right knee.
The Celtics were up by 20 at the time. Irving didn’t return, and the Clippers, playing with four new players acquired at the trade deadline, overcame a 20-point deficit for a victory for the third time in their last five games.
Eight Los Angeles players scored in double figures, led by 21 from Harrell. Rookie Landry Shamet, newly arrived from Philadelphia, scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half.
The Clippers had sliced the deficit to five points heading into the final quarter and back-to-back three-pointers from Shamet knotted the score at 100-100 with 6:42 to play.
Danilo Gallinari’s step-back jump shot put the Clippers up 102-100 and they wouldn’t trail again.
“Tonight was amazing,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “Because we didn’t have anything. At halftime I told the guys everybody’s playing uptight. Stop trying to impress each other and get out of each others’ way.”
Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis returned to Chicago — the team that traded them this week — and scored 30 points between them to help the Wizards to a 134-125 victory over the Bulls.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 31 points as the Wizards won for the second time since acquiring Parker and Portis and a draft pick from the Bulls in exchange for Otto Porter Jr.
Parker scored 20 points off the bench and Portis chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds as the Wizards reserved outscored their Bulls counterparts 64-38. — AFP