Westbrook, George keep Thunder rolling
By Agence France-Presse
A 31-point haul from Paul George and a Russell Westbrook triple-double boosted Oklahoma City Thunder’s playoff drive with a 107-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
George led the scoring while New Zealander Steven Adams weighed in with 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Thunder rebounded from Monday’s shock defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Westbrook meanwhile finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists to claim his 29th triple double of the season before a delighted home crowd at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The 133rd triple of Westbrook’s career now leaves him just five shy of Magic Johnson (138) for second place in the all-time rankings. Oscar Robertson leads the career triple standings with 181.
Oklahoma City had trailed 54-45 at the half but cut loose with a devastating burst of scoring in the third quarter, outscoring the Pacers by 31-15 to take a decisive lead.
The points blitz included a 24-0 run that left the Pacers scrambling to play catch-up.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the scoring for Indiana with 28 points while Domantas Sabonis had 18 from the bench. Mysles Turner was the next highest scorer with 12 points.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Golden State Warriors powered to their 51st win of the season in a 118-103 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies had upset Oklahoma City on Monday, but the Warriors were in no mood to let them claim another notable scalp.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry did the damage for the visitors, both bagging 28 points apiece in a comfortable victory.
Durant’s points tally came from 12 of 13 attempts, a near-perfect shooting performance that he attributed to patience.
“I count all my shots, makes and misses,” Durant said. “I felt good going into start the game and made my first three shots and got a couple of layups that got me going. I was patient.
“I put in so much work my whole life to figure out this game. I feel like some stuff is clicking for me. I’ve got to keep trying to get better though.”
DeMarcus Cousins had 16 points while Klay Thompson added 13 points for the Warriors, who improved to 51-23 to take a slender lead over the Denver Nuggets (50-23) at the top of the Western Conference.
Jonas Valanciunas (27 points) and Mike Conley (22) led the scoring for Memphis, who are already eliminated from playoff contention.
In Chicago, the Portland Trail Blazers put the trauma of Monday’s horror injury to Jusuf Nurkic behind them to trounce the Bulls by 118 to 98.
Nurkic suffered two fractures in his left leg during Portland’s overtime thriller with Brooklyn on Monday, a season-ending injury that dealt a cruel blow to the Blazers postseason hopes.
On Wednesday, however, Portland showed no hint that the injury may derail their season as they cruised to victory.
Seth Curry had 20 points while five other Portland players cracked double digits.
It was Portland’s fifth straight victory, continuing a fine run of form that has seen them win eight of their last 10 games.
The hot streak has left Portland in third spot in the Western Conference, three wins adrift of second placed Denver.