Russell Westbrook for the 10th consecutive game registered a triple-double on Monday night vs the Portland Trail Blazers. The former MVP broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 9 straight triple-doubles. In a 120-111 win Westbrook went for 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Meanwhile teammate Paul George went for a 47 point triple-double of his own as the Thunder have now won 11 out of their last 12 games. The Thunder, 37-19, sit three and a half games back of Golden State for for 1st in the Western Conference. For Westbrook, he and his Thunder teammates are playing some of their best basketball as they head into the all-star break later this week. Westbrook’s first half run, Paul George’s emergence as a legitimate MVP candidate, and the Thunder’s overall consistency have placed them in the conversation as serious contenders within the Western Conference.
More importantly for Westbrook, less is more for the superstar guard this season. Allowing Paul George to share the load, and at times carry the load, has allowed Westbrook to display the full compliments of his game while not having to carry the entire franchise to do so. Westbrook, who’s averaging career highs in rebounds and assists, appears to be on his way to averaging a triple-double for a third straight season. For a Thunder franchise that gambled and were ultimately rewarded with Paul George resigning, things could not be going better for them at the moment. Westbrook, now in his 11th season, continues to elevate his game and make his teammates around him better with his sharing of the basketball and consistent floor generalship. He continues to attack the game with his trademark ferocity, but with a more measured and controlled approach ensuring he’s getting the most out of this team, and it’s working. His remarkable play combined with the consistency and next level come up of Paul George gives the Thunder a real chance to compete with the Warriors for best in the West.
Coming off a disappointing first round exit during last year’s playoffs to the Utah Jazz, the Thunder appear to be much more comfortable in their individual roles while allowing George and Westbrook to run the show. Westbrook obviously hasn’t had this kind of running mate since Kevin Durant left for Golden State now almost three seasons ago. The weight of carrying the franchise appeared to be taking its toll on the eight time all-star no matter how many jaw-dropping performances he churned out each night. He simply couldn’t sustain those kinds of performances and consistently win long term. Now with the the kind all-NBA help that Paul George brings, Westbrook can now focus not just on his raw production but the intangible aspects of his game that will be needed especially come playoff time. Not having to be Bel-Air Academy Will on the floor to win games night in and night out Westbrook has the freedom to continue attacking the game as he does but now with more control, discipline, and now more importantly help. For the Thunder and Westbrook, less is more, especially if it means more winning going forward.