Russell Westbrook did the incredible Sunday evening, nailing a game-winning three-pointer as time expired to defeat the Denver Nuggets and cap off a game where he set the NBA's single-season record for triple-doubles.
"Very, very blessed. I've got to give all the thanks from the man above," Westbrook told reporters. "He's blessed me with unbelievable talent to go out and compete at a high level. I'm just thankful for my teammates, for my coaching staff, for the organization, for all the fans, for my family for believing in me and allowing me to do what I'm doing."
Westbrook hit a 36-foot jumper to give the Oklahoma City Thunder a 106-105 win. He finished with 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, his record-setting third triple-double with 50-plus points. His 42 triple-doubles during the 2016-17 season are one more than the record Oscar Robertson set in 1961-62.
Westbrook had already joined Robertson by becoming the second player in league history to average a triple-double over a full season. He is averaging an NBA-high 31.9 points to go along with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. It has led to some road arenas—even Denver's in a close contest—cheering him on.
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"I've been feeling it for a while," Westbrook said of road arenas getting behind him. "Everywhere I've been, the crowd's been kind of like that, which is truly amazing, something I could never dream about growing up in inner-city Los Angeles. Now being on the biggest stage possible is something I could never dream about."
Westbrook and James Harden are considered the main contenders for the league's Most Valuable Player Award. Harden is averaging 29.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 11.3 assists while leading the Houston Rockets to a 54-26 record—eight games better than Oklahoma City. The Thunder have clinched the No. 6 seed in the West despite losing Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka this offseason.
Interestingly, the two teams will square off in the first round of the playoffs.
"I think today was a pretty good argument," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of Westbrook's winning MVP. "I've seen it every day. I think any coach out there who's got a player that he's working with or has been around is going to be for his guy, I understand that. But for me, I really, really believe that he is [the MVP] because of what he's done between the lines because of what he's done from a leadership role.
Our team, a lot of the roster changed, there's a lot of young guys, a lot of things that went into our team being in a position to now play in the playoffs. His leadership, his play on the floor has basically, I think, spoken loud and clear."