Russell Westbrook is a man on a mission.
After putting up his 40th triple-double on Sunday in a 113-101 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Westbrook is just one behind Oscar Robertson’s single-season NBA record of 41. It was the sixth straight triple-double for Westbrook, who collected 40 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, and his fourth straight with at least 32 points.
Robertson set the record playing for the Cincinnati Royals during the 1961-62 season, the same season in which he became the only NBA player ever to average a triple-double. With averages of 31.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists, Westbrook will likely become the second player to achieve the feat when the regular season ends next week. It also appears Westbrook will do something Robertson couldn’t do in his season -- lead the league in scoring.
Westbrook has been on an absolute tear as of late, and has seized control of the MVP race as James Harden and the Rockets have faded from the national spotlight. Despite the loss Sunday, Westbrook’s greatest asset when it comes to MVP voting is the Thunder’s record when he records a triple-double: 31-9.
The fact that the Thunder are so successful during Westbrook’s monster games eliminates the narrative that he’s being selfish and chasing stats to his team’s detriment. If anything, the numbers show that the Thunder need Westbrook to put up the numbers he does in order to win.
Westbrook can tie Robertson’s record during Oklahoma City’s game against the Bucks on Tuesday, and then would have a chance to break the mark Wednesday against the Grizzlies. If he should fail in either of those games, he has a friendly, up-tempo matchup with the Suns on Friday.