The seemingly unstoppable Russell Westbrook produced his 15th triple-double of the season on Tuesday to propel the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 106-94 NBA victory over the Heat in Miami.
Westbrook's 52nd career triple-double was his 30th of 2016 – a total spanning the latter part of last season.
He joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to notch 30 triple-doubles in a calendar year – furthering his chances of matching Robertson's 1961-62 feat of averaging a triple-double over an entire season.
"He's a unique player," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of Westbrook, who reeled in a rebound to wrap up a triple-double with 6:40 remaining in the third quarter. He finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds and 11 assists.
"When you see him going up above guys to get rebounds, it's really remarkable," added Donovan, who noted that Westbrook's rebounds, all of them on the defensive end, ignited the Thunder's offense.
"That was 17 times where we could generate a fast break just through him," Donovan said. "(Westbrook) has it, the team sees it, and now we can get out and run."
Oklahoma City had a 16-4 advantage in fast break points and outscored Miami 58-32 in the paint.
Westbrook connected on 11 of 22 shots from the floor and seven of 10 from the free throw line.
But Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the lasting impression left by Westbrook was the way he gave it all he had for all 37 minutes he spent on the floor.
"From my perspective, some of the most impressive plays he made were diving in front of our bench, taking the charge at the end when they were up 12," Spoelstra said. "Every single possession is the most important possession to him,"
"It's a great lesson to our young guys. What defines greatness is consistency," Spoelstra said.
Rockets ease past Mavs
In a testy all-Texas tussle, the Houston Rockets used a 16-0 scoring run in the second quarter to take control en route to a 123-107 victory over the Mavericks in Dallas.
With the win, the Rockets have swept all four of their regular-season games against the Mavericks for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign.
James Harden led the Rockets with 34 points, 11 assists and five rebounds as Houston improved to 24-9.
For Dallas, the defeat spoiled the return of Australian center Andrew Bogut, who missed the Mavs' prior 11 games with a bone bruise on his right knee.
Both Bogut and Mavs veteran star Dirk Nowitzki played limited minutes after their recent returns from injury.
Nowitzki finished with seven points and three rebounds in 15 minutes but like Bogut -- who had zero points but six rebounds -- sat out the second half.
Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 21 points, while Wesley Matthews had 19. The Mavericks fell to 9-23.
The teams combined for eight technical fouls and two Flagrant One fouls, with Houston forward Trevor Ariza tossed in the fourth quarter.
The Rockets jumped out to an 18-4 lead in the first quarter, but the Mavericks rallied and briefly took a 29-26 lead on a three-pointer by Matthews at the 1:23 mark of the first quarter.
But the Rockets had knotted the score at 31-31 by the end of the first and pulled away in the second.
Harden made the final five points of their 16-0 run. That included two free throws after Bogut was whistled for a flagrant foul and a three-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 53-37. They were up 66-47 by halftime.
In Boston, Gerald Green came off the bench to score a season-high 19 points in less than 19 minutes on the floor as the Celtics beat the Memphis Grizzlies 113-103.
Avery Bradley scored 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds and Isaiah Thomas had 21 points and seven assists for the Celtics, who beat the Grizzlies for the second time in eight days.
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Updated Date: Dec 28, 2016 12:35:16 IST