- Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. CT
- Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network
MEMPHIS – In a win against one of the longest and most athletic teams in the NBA, the Thunder managed 18 first half assists and 29 for the game, with just 13 turnovers for the entire night. It was a blowout victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, a 31-point win that marked the largest margin of the season. Now the Thunder has to go do it again against an equally potent foe, the Memphis Grizzlies.
“We got back to moving the basketball,” Head Coach Billy Donovan said. “Hopefully we can go on the road and play and build off of what we did.”
“From the tip we did a good job of making it tough for them,” point guard Russell Westbrook noted.
A major portion for why the Thunder had so much offensive success was the play of Westbrook, their catalyst on both ends of the floor. It was an historic, unforgettable game in Chesapeake Energy Arena. Fans will frame their game programs and fathers and mothers will tell sons and daughters about their chance to watch Westbrook tie Oscar Robertson’s 55-year old record of 41 triple-doubles in the season.
“Right now I’m going to embrace this moment. Moments like this you want to cherish,” Westbrook said. “It’s something I can tell my new son as he gets older.”
“To go from a guy that came here as a competitor with a ton of ability and a ton of fight, to now being a guy who is totally in control of the game and a mature, smart player, a guy who can pick apart other teams, it’s been really fun to watch,” forward Nick Collison said, adding some perspective to the strides Westbrook has made in his career. “He deserves a ton of credit for the year we’ve had. We’ve needed almost every one of those statistical categories every night to win.”
Tonight against the Grizzlies, Westbrook has a chance to break Robertson’s record, an unheard of feat that would rival snapping Joe Dimaggio’s 56-game hit streak or Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. On top of that, Westbrook also has a chance to seal a triple-double average for the season by racking up 16 assists and could clinch averaging 30 points with 25 more over the next five games. To Westbrook, the idea of being discussed in the same breath as Robertson, a pioneer who played in the 1960’s, blows him away.
“It’s definitely an honor to be mentioned in the conversation with Oscar Robertson and the different things he did for the game of basketball to allow me to play the game today,” Westbrook said. “When he was playing, the game was different, the times were different and there were different things going on around the world. That’s something I can sit back and be thankful for players like him.”
Whether Westbrook gets a triple-double tonight, whether he racks up those 16 assists or 25 points, it will be a win that matters the most to the Thunder point guard and his teammates. With just a handful of games to go down the stretch, the Thunder wants to be playing its best basketball. It showed that on Tuesday night, the question is whether it can keep it going as the playoffs approach.