Russell Westbrook’s first triple-double of the season more than made up for Kevin Durant’s early exit Tuesday in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 125-101 NBA triumph over the Washington Wizards.
Westbrook sat out the entire fourth quarter after amassing 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for Oklahoma City, who led 68-50 at halftime and by as many as 29 points in the second half.
But the news wasn’t all good for the Thunder as Durant clutched his left leg late in the second quarter and didn’t play the second half because of a hamstring strain.
“We knew we had to come out and play the right way and not be relaxed,” Westbrook said of the Thunder’s determination to keep the pressure on in the second half.
“I thought we did a great job of sticking together.”
Durant, who played just 27 games last season as he battled to recover from a broken foot suffered in October 2014, downplayed Tuesday’s injury.
“I can walk, it’s just a little sore,” said the former NBA Most Valuable Player, who put up a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds before exiting.
“I’ll just get treatment and see how it goes,” he added.
Durant, who hails from the Maryland suburbs near Washington, is a fan favourite in the nation’s capital, with many hoping he might opt to join the Wizards when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
But after Durant said this week that his warm reception in Washington was “disrespectful” to the hometown team, he was actually booed sporadically on Tuesday.
The Wizards didn’t give their supporters much to cheer.
They committed only eight turnovers after a combined 49 in their prior two games, but were out-rebounded 53-41 and shot just 39.2 percent from the field.
Washington felt the absence of guard and leading scorer Bradley Beal, who hurt his left shoulder in Saturday’s road loss at Atlanta, and forward Nene, who was sidelined by back spasms.
PELICANS FINALLY WIN
The New Orleans Pelicans finally notched their first win of the season, snapping a six-game losing streak with a 120-105 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
However, the triumph was shadowed by an injury to star forward Anthony Davis, who exited with a hip contusion early in the third quarter after scoring 17 points and pulling down seven rebounds in 19 minutes on the floor.
Guards Eric Gordon, Ish Smith and Toney Douglas also each scored 17 points for the Pelicans, who handed the Mavs their third defeat in four games.
JAMES CARRIES CAVS AGAIN
Superstar LeBron James scored 17 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied for a 118-114 victory over the Utah Jazz.
The Cavs trailed by as many as nine in the final period — before James stole a pass, dribbled the length of the floor, drawing a foul as he powered to the basket, and converted the three-point play that energised his team.
James added eight assists and seven rebounds for Cleveland, who survived 16 turnovers to notch their seventh straight win and remain nbeaten in five home games this season.
HEAT BURN LAKERS
Kobe Bryant was a late scratch with back trouble, watching from the sideline as his Los Angeles Lakers fell 101-88 to the Miami Heat.
“I’ve been dealing with the back a little bit during training camp,” said the 37-year-old Bryant, who just this weekend was saying he wanted to play every game he could in his 20th and possibly final season. “Today, I couldn’t shake it free.”