CHICAGO — With 12 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists against the Chicago Bulls, Russell Westbrook has only one team that he hasn’t recorded a triple-double against, and he probably won’t get to cross that one off.
The Oklahoma City Thunder is the only team Westbrook hasn’t triple-doubled against, as he notched his third of the season and 82nd of his career in a 101-69 win Saturday night.
“He had one against us in practice,” Carmelo Anthony said jokingly afterward. “He’s one against the home team.”
For a man well-entrenched in the NBA record book for his triple-doubling, Westbrook added another mark: He is the only player in NBA history to record a triple-double against every team he has faced.
“No I didn’t [know that],” Westbrook said of the mark. “Just get a win. That’s all I did, that’s all I worry about — getting a win. Happy it could come against them.”
New teammates Anthony and Paul George have been on the other side of Westbrook’s stat-stuffing, but watching him produce on a nightly basis has left them impressed.
“It’s special,” George said. “Man, that’s a special player. He’s solidifying himself early as a Hall of Famer.
“It was crazy to see playing against him, and it’s even crazier to see him doing it night in and night out being on his team. It’s crazy. There’s not a player that’s been in this league that’s been at his [effort] level.”
Against the overmatched Bulls, the Thunder offense flowed from the opening tip, as they scored 15 points in three minutes, with Westbrook at the heart of it. Playing alongside Paul George and Carmelo Anthony has been an adjustment for Westbrook, but he has settled in the past four games and is back to his usual stat-stuffing self. After averaging a triple-double last season, Westbrook is averaging 22.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 12.0 assists six games into this season.
“I try never, being on the sidelines and working with him, ever take it for granted because he’s such a unique individual,” coach Billy Donovan said. “And more than anything else with him, it’s really his mentality that I have great respect for and an admiration that I love. He’s an old-school, just bring it, he just has certain values in the way the game is supposed to [be] played from a competitive standpoint. He plays hurt. He plays tired. He plays sore. And his effort that he gives when he gets those triple-doubles, yeah, I don’t look at it and say, ‘Eh, it’s just him being him.’ I realize the amount of effort it takes and the commitment it takes on his part to go out there and do that, impact the game in so many different areas.”
The trend continues from last season, when the Thunder went 33-9 in games in which Westbrook registered a triple-double. This season, they’re 3-0 when he gets one and 0-3 when he doesn’t. The sample size is obviously thin so early into the season, but Westbrook’s rebounding appears to be a difference-maker. After downsizing the roster by adding Anthony and starting him at power forward, the Thunder, historically a dominant rebounding team, have struggled on the glass.
“He’s the best guy I’ve ever seen doing that. He has an incredible knack for the ball, and then obviously his explosiveness and his speed and his quickness getting there in a hurry,” Donovan said. “But he has great anticipation ability. He’s the best loose ball guy I’ve ever seen.”