Two points being made before this game:
- The Charlotte franchise has never won at Chesapeake Arena;
- The Hornets and the Chicago Bulls are the only opposing teams against which Russell Westbrook has never scored a triple-double.
Both of those statements are now inoperative. Westbrook duly produced a triple-double, his 40th of the season and one short of Oscar Robertson’s season record. And it wasn’t enough to keep the Hornets from collecting its first win in Oklahoma City; the Thunder defense was conspicuous by virtue of its absence, and Charlotte, trying hard to get into the Eastern playoffs, pulled to within a game and a half of the #8 spot by thoroughly thrashing the Thunder, 113-101.
Charlotte presented plenty of offense, shooting 48 percent from the floor and bagging 28 of 32 free throws. They admittedly gave up 16 turnovers, but the Thunder coughed up the ball 24 times, leading to 35 Hornet points. The third quarter was a disaster for OKC, with a six-minute dry spell and scoring only from Westbrook and Enes Kanter. And Kanter had what can only be called a bad day, with nine points. Worse yet, those nine led the bench. Next to this, Westbrook’s 40-13-10 was basically an afterthought.
Meanwhile, six Hornets made it to double figures, led by Kemba Walker with 29 on 10-20 and 6-12 from the three-point line. Frank Kaminsky led the reserves with 18, and Thunder castoff Jeremy Lamb knocked down 18 for Charlotte.
There’s only one playoff spot open in the West, and the Trail Blazers have opened up a 2½-game lead over the Nuggets. The Thunder aren’t going to fall out of the playoffs, but they might not finish sixth after all: the Clippers own fifth for now, and the Grizzlies are right on OKC’s tail. It doesn’t help that the next two games are against playoff teams: the Bucks in OKC on Tuesday, and the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday. Still, you have to figure Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record is about to fall to Russell Westbrook, and the Big O says he’s fine with that.