LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Another historic night from Russell Westbrook helped the Washington Wizards to a 133-132 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.
Westbrook notched the 181st triple-double of his career on Saturday, tying Oscar Robertson for the most in NBA history.
He finished with 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists, draining the go-ahead free-throws with one second left in overtime then blocking a potential game-winning shot from Indiana’s Caris LeVert as time expired.
“That’s Russell, he’s an incredible player and person,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who said he thought the triple-double record established by Robertson during an NBA career from 1960-74 “would never be touched”.
Bradley Beal scored 50 points for the Wizards but missed overtime with a hamstring strain.
Beal’s outburst wasn’t the only impressive performance overshadowed by Westbrook. LeVert scored 35 for Indiana whose Domantas Sabonis also had a triple-double of 30 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.
But before Beal’s departure – a worrisome development for the Wizards with the regular season winding down – Westbrook had secured his record-equalling triple-double with his 10th assist late in the third with an arching pass to Beal for a floater in the lane.
“Man, it’s unbelievable,” Westbrook said of matching Robertson. “I take a lot of pride in doing everything that impacts winning, as much as I can leave it on the floor. To be in a conversation with Oscar, one I just want to thank him, because he set the stage.”
Westbrook gets a first chance to overtake Robertson on Monday when the Wizards play the Hawks in Atlanta.
But he and the rest of the Wizards are focussed on the standings, where their narrow victory in a game that featured 33 lead changes saw them inch ahead of the Pacers into ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
The seventh through 10th-placed teams will compete in the play-in tournament for a berth in the playoffs proper.
“We just want to keep playing good basketball moving into it,” Brooks said. “If we keep moving up, that’d be great.”
Among other teams fighting for play-in spots, the Golden State Warriors notched a 136-97 rout of Oklahoma City thanks to Stephen Curry’s 49 points in three quarters.
The win kept the Warriors ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies in eighth place in the Western Conference.
Curry was on fire from the opening tip-off, draining five three-pointers on the way to 24 points in the first quarter and maintaining his lead over Beal in the NBA scoring race, despite the Washington star’s big night.
Curry connected on 14 of 26 shots from the field, including 11 of 21 from three-point range.
It was Curry’s fourth game this season with at least 11 three-pointers, an NBA record. Warriors coach Steve Kerr was running out of superlatives for his superstar.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Kerr said.
The Warriors led by as many as 41 points and were up by 39 after three quarters, after which Curry and fellow Golden State starters Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green checked out, along with all of the Thunder starters.