Russell Westbrook 1st Since Michael Jordan to Record 4 Straight Triple-Doubles

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2015

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Not even a dent on the side of his face can stop Russell Westbrook.

The Oklahoma City Thunder guard had 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in Wednesday night's 123-118 overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming the first player since Michael Jordan in 1989 to record four straight triple-doubles.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

.@russwest44 (39 pts, 14 rebs, 10 asts) is the 1st player since Jordan with a triple-double in 4 straight games! http://t.co/6C72xNYylg

Westbrook, 26, is the sixth player overall with four straight triple-doubles, joining Jordan, Maurice Stokes, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain—all of whom are currently in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, per Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman

ESPN's Marc Stein noted that Chamberlain, the owner of nearly every gaudy NBA record, once recorded nine straight triple-doubles:

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

Wilt Chamberlain once reeled off nine straight triple-doubles to set NBA record. Four in a row -- and latest with a mask -- ain't bad though

Westbrook's fourth came after a one-game absence caused by a fractured cheekbone suffered in the waning moments of OKC's loss to Portland on Friday.

Wearing a protective mask over his face, Westbrook came back with a vengeance against Philly. He blasted out of the gate with 16 points and six rebounds in the first quarter alone, aggressively attacking the basket to draw fouls or score near the rim. While his efficiency waxed and waned throughout—as is typical for any Westbrook performance—the aggressiveness never disappeared. 

Philadelphia veteran Jason Richardson said after the game, per the Associated Press (via ESPN), "It's amazing watching him play. You've got to take your hats off to this guy. He takes no plays off. He plays hard on both ends of the court. He rebounds. It's amazing to see a guy who has that much passion about winning."

Westbrook finished the game making 16 of 33 shots and sinking an equal number of shots from the line on 20 attempts.

With Kevin Durant out once again with his foot injury and Serge Ibaka struggling en route to two points, Westbrook was at times a one-man army bent on taking down a Sixers outfit that's been far more competitive in recent weeks. Dion Waiters added 20 points, and D.J. Augustin had 17, but it was all Westbrook all the time whenever the Thunder needed a basket.

In many ways, Westbrook's heroics are akin to the season-long brilliance of Durant last season. With the New Orleans Pelicans also surging and hot on OKC's heels for the final playoff spot in the West, these performances aren't just spectacular—they're necessary.

The Thunder on most nights have no other source of reliable offense. Neither Waiters nor Augustin is consistent enough to be counted on. Ibaka can't create shots for himself.

Save for the nights where those guys show up or Mitch McGary randomly goes off, Westbrook is a man on an island. He's the off-the-bounce scorer, creator and offensive play-caller in nearly every possession. One of these nights, it's going to backfire in a big way; Westbrook taking on both roles cannot make up for the steady all-time greatness of Durant.

Until that actually happens, let's just sit back and enjoy this supernova.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.


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