Westbrook’s triple-double streak unique

WASHINGTON: Russell Westbrook’s historic triple-double streak was very much like his unique style of play. We should have seen it coming, but there wasn’t really much anyone could do to stop it.
Westbrook, the relentless superstar guard of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, recently rattled off seven consecutive triple-doubles — the longest streak since Michael Jordan also had seven in a row in 1989 and the second-longest in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s nine straight in 1968.
With the season nearly one-third complete, Westbrook is averaging a triple-double with a league-leading 30.7 points per game, 10.8 assists (second) and 10.7 rebounds (11th). He is threatening to join Oscar Robertson (1961-62) as the only players in league history to average a triple-double for an entire season.
Westbrook has downplayed the streak. While admitting it was a ‘‘blessing” to be mentioned with all-time greats such as Jordan,Chamberlain and Robertson, he repeatedly has said he is more concerned with winning games for the Thunder (15-10).
“I like to win,” Westbrook said. “I get asked that question every single night and my answer’s always the same.”
Westbrook leads the NBA with 12 triple-doubles; the rest of the league has 15 combined. His historic start has followed the departure of fellow superstar Kevin Durant, who signed as a free agent with Golden State in the off-season.
But perhaps NBA fans should have seen this coming. Westbrook began the season with 37 career triple-doubles, second among active players behind LeBron James, who had a five-year head start. Westbrook is now sixth all-time, 10 behind Larry Bird (59). Robertson is the all-time leader with 181.
And when Durant missed 55 games in the 2014-15 season with a foot fracture, Westbrook registered a league-leading 11 triple-doubles, all but one with Durant sidelined.
“I always take the same mindset every night,” Westbrook said. “It doesn’t change anything I do. I always come out and compete at a high level every night, streak or no streak.”
Westbrook almost has to get a triple-double for the Thunder to be competitive. Oklahoma City is 9-3 when Westbrook registers a triple-double and 6-7 when he doesn’t.
In Tuesday’s 114-95 loss at Portland, Westbrook had just 20 points, six assists and six rebounds as the Trail Blazers had their big men sag into the paint and protect the rim. The points were Westbrook’s second-lowest total of the season and the rebounds and assists matched season lows.
“I don’t know that we slowed him,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ‘‘I’d like to give credit to our team as far as some of the things we did, but certainly he didn’t have the night that he’s had in the past.”
Westbrook has a 41.19 usage rate, an estimated percentage of the team’s plays in which a player is involved, and commits 5.6 turnovers per game. Both would be NBA records.
However, the only records Westbrook is concerned with is Oklahoma City’s win-loss record.
“Winning is the most important thing to me and that’s all I focus on,” he said. — dpa