Were you a Denver Nuggets fan, you had a chance at your best possible outcome: you got to see Russell Westbrook collect his 42nd triple-double of the season, breaking Oscar Robertson’s 55-year-old record, and you got to watch the Thunder, who too often seemed like they were gasping for breath, and not because of the altitude either, stumble all over the place. And the Nuggets had serious motivation: they started the day a game and a half behind the Trail Blazers for the eighth and last playoff spot in the West, and a loss would mean elimination. Then Westbrook did his usual fourth-quarter stuff, because that’s what he does. With 2.9 seconds left, Denver had had its lead shaved to two, at 105-103, and the ball, inevitably, came in to Westbrook, 36 feet from the rim. He sailed it over the Nuggets, and they watched it go in, just a breath or two before the horn. Oklahoma City 106, Denver 105, the season series is swept — the Nuggets haven’t beaten the Thunder in over two years — and if this doesn’t sweep Westbrook into the MVP slot, nothing can.
And it took Westbrook-style heroics to pull this one off, too. Andre Roberson was back, but for limited minutes, and he seemed unwell. Doug McDermott was a late scratch, and Victor Oladipo seemed to be walking wounded. (VO was 3-15 from the floor, missing all six three-point attempts.) Against this, you have both Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler collecting double-doubles, Gallinari knocking down a season-high 34, and Nikola Jokić good for 23. The Nuggets shot 6 percent better than the Thunder, and their 11-34 for three eclipsed the Thunder’s feeble 6-25.
But none of that matters, because Westbrook. We’re talking 50-16-10. And if you need a reminder of how this team works: Semaj Christon scored exactly three points — off Westbrook’s tenth assist, the one that nailed down the record. The brothers Stache had 25 points between them; nobody else managed even ten.
Just a reminder:
In the last 2:30 of the 4th quarter Russell Westbrook outscored the entire Nuggets team 13-2. https://t.co/bJeQY7rWv4
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 9, 2017
And that’s 80 games. Two remain: at Minnesota on Tuesday, and at home against some rather cheesed-off Nuggets on Wednesday. Those games are valuable to the statisticians, but not, I suspect, to anyone else.