OKLAHOMA CITY — With a rebound with nine minutes left in the third quarter, Russell Westbrook added another historic bullet point to his résumé, becoming the first player to average a triple-double in multiple seasons Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Westbrook entered the Oklahoma City Thunder’s final two games with the tall task of needing 34 rebounds to round his average up to 10. He hauled in 18 against the Heat on Monday and 16 in just 22 minutes against the Grizzlies.
Westbrook grabbed eight rebounds in the opening 11 minutes and hit double figures before halftime, heading to the break with an interesting stat line of 1 point, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. With the game in hand, Westbrook grabbed five rebounds in the opening three minutes of the third quarter. Early in the quarter, a loose ball rebound bounced a few times and Carmelo Anthony ran it down, turning around to yell “Russ!” with a big smile.
After Westbrook grabbed the 16th board, the crowd erupted in a standing ovation, and Westbrook’s teammates applauded. Westbrook looked up at the board and gave a quick nod to the crowd.
He finished with 6 points, 20 rebounds and 19 assists in a 137-123 win that ultimately gave Westbrook season averages of 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists.
Last year, Westbrook became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double.
Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists in 1961-62, setting a standard many considered unreachable in the modern era.
Russell Westbrook needs 16 rebounds to become the first player to average a triple-double more than once. “People that’s talking or saying whatever they need to say, they should try to do it and see how hard it is,” he said Wednesday.
Westbrook pushed back against the stat-padding narrative that has built around him over the past year after shootaround Wednesday morning.
“A lot people make jokes about whatever, stat-padding or going to get rebounds,” Westbrook said in an answer largely unrelated to the question that was asked. “If people could get 20 rebounds every night, they would. If people could get 15 rebounds, they would. People that’s talking or saying whatever they need to say, they should try doing it and see how hard it is.
“Since everybody wants to be talking, I’m tired of hearing the same old rebound this, stealing rebounds, all this s—. I take pride in what I do. I come out and play, and I get the ball faster than someone else gets to it. That’s what it is. If you don’t want it, I’m gonna get it. Simple as that.”
Westbrook said Wednesday that a lot of his focus with rebounding is to snare the ball and use his speed to instantly start transition opportunities for the Thunder. On multiple rebounds Wednesday, he either kicked ahead for a dunk or found a teammate for an open 3.
“The game will tell you what you need to do,” Westbrook said. “Getting loose rebounds, loose balls, getting on the break is something that’s very, very beneficial to our team and something that in my opinion you can’t stop, getting a rebound, pushing out, getting it up quick, because you can’t scout for that. And it’s something that’s great for our team.”