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Westbrook fails to set record in loss to Suns

Westbrook fails to set record in loss to Suns
Published On: Sat, Apr 08
Dec 26, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington (left) and guard Nik Stauskas against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook put his name in the NBA record books once on Friday.

But a miserable shooting start and an inspired effort from the Phoenix Suns kept him from authoring any further rewrites.

Westbrook fell short of setting the NBA record for triple-doubles in a season, managing 23 points and 12 rebounds but only eight assists in a 120-99 loss to the Suns on Friday.

Westbrook assured himself of becoming only the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season with his sixth assist of the game, feeding Victor Oladipo for a layup with 10:36 left in the third period.

He joined Oscar Robertson, who averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 rebounds in for the Cincinnati Royals in 1961-62, when he had a triple-double in 41 games.

But Westbrook, who missed his first 11 shots and committed five of his eight turnovers in the first quarter, remained tied with Robertson at 41 triple-doubles for the season. Oklahoma City has three games remaining, beginning in Denver against the Nuggets on Sunday.

Westbrook finished the game 6-for-25 shooting and spent more than 45 minutes after the game shooting in the Suns practice court, still wearing his game uniform, and said he wasn't thinking about the record.

"My main goal since I got here and especially this season is to win a championship," he said. "If I wanted to get 10 assists I could get 10 assists. Everyone wants to see the record broke but it's bigger than that for our team and for me. We feel we can win a championship. Maybe other people don't, maybe (the media) don't, but we're going for a championship."

The Thunder (43-34) are now locked into the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Devin Booker scored 21 straight points in the fourth quarter and finished with 37 to lead Phoenix T.J. Warren had 23 for the Suns (23-57), who led by as many as 28 points and emphatically snapped a 13-game losing streak.

Booker tied his own franchise record for consecutive points he set on Jan. 14 against the San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City. He now has an NBA-best six quarters with 20 or more points this season, one more than Westbrook and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Booker said he hopes Westbrook gets his record but the Suns weren't interested in being a footnote in history.

"When we were up 20 and we knew he needed two assists ... all of us are competitors." Booker said. "Russ is chasing history and we didn't want it to happen here. I'm sure he's going to get it. I think it would be better for him to get it at home anyway."

Six Suns scored in double figures and the team shot 52 percent from the field. But it was Booker's big fourth quarter and penchant for excelling in the big moment that sealed the win.

"It's funny, (Booker) did the same thing against Kobe Bryant in his last game here," Suns coach Earl Watson said. "He just took over in the fourth quarter. He was phenomenal down the stretch."

Westbrook had three turnovers in the first three minutes and didn't hit his first basket until 50.4 seconds remained in the first half. And while Westbrook was stuck in neutral, the Suns sped away.

Warren had 11 of his 15 first-half points in the first quarter and the Suns had 24 of their 32 points in the paint to build a 13-point lead. Booker had six points in the final 1:59, including a driving layup with 2.1 seconds left to put the Suns up 32-19.

Phoenix put up 39 points in the second quarter and pushed their lead to 71-43 Phoenix on a Warren jumper with 1:03 left to set a season high for points in the first half.

Westbrook made his first basket on a 17-footer with 1:20 left in the half and followed with a three-point play to pull the Thunder within 71-48 at the half. He finished the half with six points, seven rebounds three assists and six turnovers.

Oklahoma City came out on fire on the third quarter with an 18-6 run and cut the Phoenix lead to 11 at 77-66 on two Westbrook free throws with 6:33 left. But the Suns ended the quarter on an 18-6 run of their own and restored their lead to 23 points at on a 95-72 on a Derrick Jones Jr. jumper with 0.2 of a second left.

The Thunder never got closer than 15 points in the fourth quarter. Down 20 points, Thunder coach Billy Donovan finally pulled Westbrook with 2:34 left.

"I wasn't trying for the triple-double," Donovan said. "I've seen enough miraculous things this year ... I just said, 'You know what? He gets hot around the 3-point line, we make a couple of shots, make a couple of stops...' I wanted to give our team every opportunity."

NOTES: Thunder G Russell Westbrook had averaged 41.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 13.7 assists in three previous games against the Suns this season, including games of 51 points (Oct. 28) and 48 points (March 3), becoming the first player to ever score 45 or more points against Phoenix twice in the same year. ... Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan on coaching Westbrook: "I'll never take for granted that your best player ... you never have to crank up. I never walk into that locker room think, 'Geez, I hope he's ready to play tonight. I've never done that in two years." ... Forward Marquese Chriss made his 73rd start of the season for the Suns. That is the third most by a rookie in franchise history and the other two (81 by Walter Davis in 1977-78 and 79 by Alvan Adams in 1975-76) were named the NBA Rookie of the Year.

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