Breakfast Special: A Super-Size Russell Westbrook Stat Line

Two conflicting thoughts strike the NBA observer when looking over the box score from the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 122-116 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night.

The first is “wow, Russell Westbrook had 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 16 assists, the guy’s amazing.”

The second is “True, but is it even news anymore when Westbrook gets a triple-double?”

In 2016-17, Westbrook averaged a triple-double, won MVP, and drew comparisons to Oscar Robertson.

In 2017-18, Westbrook averaged a triple-double, and everyone wondered out loud if OKC was Paul George‘s team now and if being a volume counting-stat chaser wasn’t a massive liability.

In 2018-19, Westbrook is averaging a triple-double and can’t even start in the All-Star Game, the biggest celebration of counting-stat chasing in all of sports.

What a strange yet brutally uncaring world.

Three Thunder players notched double-digit rebounds, as Paul George had 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Steven Adams had 20 points and 13 rebounds, including seven offensive boards, all in the cause of the Thunder dominating the glass 58-42.

The Thunder also passed the ball well, notching 33 assists on their 50 (out of 101) made field goals.

And nobody appreciates Russell Westbrook anymore, even though he’s averaging a triple-double for the third straight season on a team that, at 30-18, is the third-best team in the West.

Let’s show some love for Captain Counting Stat:

The Timberwolves Are Not Dead

Minnesota’s back at .500, sending the Lakers down to yet another defeat sans LeBron James 120-105 at Staples Center Thursday night.

That’s three in a row for Minnesota, the latest team to drop to 14th place in the West only to find themselves bouncing back in short order.

And while it looks like that 14-team window is narrowing a bit—the Grizzlies are a Dumpster fire and the Mavericks are using it to cook their Texas barbecue—one of the weirdest ongoing stories in NBA lore continues to have some legs even as February approaches.

11 teams are at or above .500 in the West after the Wolves’ win. 12 teams are at or above even for point differential. The East may have a fifth-place team (Boston) with 30 wins, but the East also has all save one of the league’s true garbage fires—and we’ll get to them in a minute.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 27 points, Andrew Wiggins had 23, Derrick Rose had just six points and missed most of the game with ankle soreness, and somehow the Wolves won this one big despite the Lakers shooting 50.5 percent from the field.

Well, until you consider the Lakers had 19 turnovers, shot just 9-of-14 from the line, and hit just 8-of-28 for three.

But the two-pointers? They went in. Hooray, I guess.

Some love from the social media person:

Stephen Curry Counts By Two

The thing we always forget about Stephen Curry when he’s lights-out from three is just what a versatile scorer he is, and how he’s got a knack for getting to the rim that forces defenders to give him the little sliver of space he needs to get that three off.

To wit, Steph went 14-of-24 from the field on his way to 38 points in the Warriors’ 126-118 win over the Washington Wizards Thursday night.

He was 2-of-8 from three. He was 12-of-16 from two. Oh, and he made all eight of his free throws, so there’s that.

Combine that with Kevin Durant‘s 21, Draymond Green‘s wacky seven-point, 15-rebound, seven-assist stat line, and the Dubs shooting a combined 56.8 percent from the field, and that’s a recipe for a win.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins had 17…

…but Steph is the chef cooking that recipe for nine straight wins:

And Finally…

The Trail Blazers went to Phoenix and didn’t screw up.

Portland beat the Suns 120-106 behind 24 points from Damian Lillard and 20 from CJ McCollum.

The Blazers also dominated the boards (53-39), shot a perfect 20-of-20 from the line as a squad, and held Phoenix to a cover-your-eyes 40.9 percent shooting night from the field.

In other words, they played the worst team in the West and didn’t screw up.

The Blazer backcourt shares the performing adequately and not getting embarrassed reel:

Coming later: Is He Any Good, my long overdue thoughts on the Victor Oladipo injury in Indy, and whatever else my fevered mind dreams up. There were no features yesterday for unrelated can’t-get-my-mind-right reasons, but don’t worry, my emotional state’s in better shape than Vic’s knee.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!