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Westbrook’s milestone fuels Wizards; Dubs win

Los Angeles—Another historic night from Russell Westbrook helped the Washington Wizards to a 133-132 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. AFP
Westbrook notched the 181st triple-double of his career on Saturday, tying Oscar Robertson for the most in NBA history.

He finished with 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists, draining the go-ahead free-throws with one second left in overtime then blocking a potential game-winning shot from Indiana’s Caris LeVert as time expired.

“That’s Russell, he’s an incredible player and person,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who said he thought the triple-double record established by Robertson during an NBA career from 1960-74 “would never be touched.”

Bradley Beal scored 50 points for the Wizards but missed overtime with a hamstring strain.

Beal’s outburst wasn’t the only impressive performance overshadowed by Westbrook. LeVert scored 35 for Indiana whose Domantas Sabonis also had a triple-double of 30 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.

But before Beal’s departure—a worrisome development for the Wizards with the regular season winding down—Westbrook had secured his record-equalling triple-double with his 10th assist late in the third with an arching pass to Beal for a floater in the lane.

“Man, it’s unbelievable,” Westbrook said of matching Robertson. “I take a lot of pride in doing everything that impacts winning, as much as I can leave it on the floor. To be in a conversation with Oscar, one I just want to thank him, because he set the stage.”

Westbrook gets a first chance to overtake Robertson on Monday when the Wizards play the Hawks in Atlanta.

But he and the rest of the Wizards are focused on the standings, where their narrow victory in a game that featured 33 lead changes saw them inch ahead of the Pacers into ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

The seventh through 10th-placed teams will compete in the play-in tournament for a berth in the playoffs proper.

“We just want to keep playing good basketball moving into it,” Brooks said. “If we keep moving up, that’d be great.”

Among other teams fighting for play-in spots, the Golden State Warriors notched a 136-97 rout of Oklahoma City thanks to Stephen Curry’s 49 points in three quarters.

The win kept the Warriors ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies in eighth place in the Western Conference.

Curry was on fire from the opening tip-off, draining five three-pointers on the way to 24 points in the first quarter and maintaining his lead over Beal in the NBA scoring race, despite the Washington star’s big night. AFP

Curry connected on 14 of 26 shots from the field, including 11 of 21 from three-point range.

It was Curry’s fourth game this season with at least 11 three-pointers, an NBA record. Warriors coach Steve Kerr was running out of superlatives for his superstar.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Kerr said.

The Warriors led by as many as 41 points and were up by 39 after three quarters, after which Curry and fellow Golden State starters Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green checked out, along with all of the Thunder starters.

The Grizzlies, fueled by a double-double of 18 points and 21 rebounds from Jonas Valanciunas, beat the Toronto Raptors 109-99 as the 10th-placed San Antonio Spurs fell 102-124 to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Despite the defeat, the Spurs remained two games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans for the final play-in spot.

The Utah Jazz improved their Western Conference-leading record to 50-18 with a 124-116 victory over the Houston Rockets -- who are assured of finishing among the worst three teams.

Playoff intensity

The Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers romped past already eliminated Detroit 118-104.

But the Brooklyn Nets had to battle for a 125-119 victory over the Denver Nuggets that put them half a game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for second in the East.

Kevin Durant’s 33 points included five free-throws for the last five points of a game in which Brooklyn trailed by 21 points in the first half and by as many as 15 in the third quarter.

Kyrie Irving added 31 points for the Nets, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

They held the Nuggets to 15 points in the fourth quarter, taking a one-point lead -- their first since the opening minute -- on forward Joe Harris’s basket with 6:12 to play.

Durant welcomed the “playoff intensity” of the contest.

“It’ll make us better,” he said.

Topics: Russell Westbrook , Washington Wizards , Indiana Pacers , Golden State Warriors , Stephen Curry , Oscar Robertson
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