Westbrook recorded the 139th triple-double of his career with his 28-point, 10-rebound, 13-assist performance in Saturday’s 126-123 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, moving past Magic Johnson for the second-most in NBA history behind Oscar Robertson.
“I know nowadays, getting a triple-double seems normal, but I take a pride, a lot of energy, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of things I do off the floor to prepare myself to be able to compete every single night and play at a high level,” Westbrook said. “For me, that’s a great accomplishment, especially growing up and never even thinking I’d be playing in the NBA. Now being there and being in the history books is just a blessing to me and something that I don’t take for granted one bit.”
Johnson tweeted congratulations to Westbrook on his achievement.
Congratulations to Russell Westbrook for passing me and having the 2nd-most triple-doubles in NBA history! https://t.co/y3KgYXsjJB
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 27, 2019
Robertson, a Hall of Famer who was the only player to average a triple-double for a season before Westbrook accomplished the feat the past three years, tallied 181 career triple-doubles.
Westbrook’s teams are now 111-28 in his triple-double games, which should silence any criticism that he prioritizes his individual production over team success. He played an essential role in the Rockets’ win Saturday night, when co-star James Harden had another cold shooting night, needing 29 shots to get his 29 points and missing all but two of his 18 3-point attempts.
Westbrook took over the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter, which started with the Rockets facing a New Orleans team missing No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and star veteran guard Jrue Holiday because of knee injuries.
Houston took the lead for good on a quarter-opening 8-0 run that was ignited by a Westbrook drive for an and-1 layup and also included him driving and kicking to PJ Tucker for a 3-pointer and flying in for an emphatic, two-handed dunk on a breakaway after stripping the ball from Brandon Ingram.
“It’s a different dynamic that we’ve seen that he’s been doing for a very, very long time,” said Harden, who pushed the Rockets’ front office to trade for his longtime friend and former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate when Westbrook became available over the summer. “I’m just happy to have him on this side now. He took over that game in the fourth quarter.”
The Toyota Center crowd erupted when he rebounded a miss by Ingram with 1:40 remaining to clinch the historic triple-double. Rockets fans chanted Westbrook’s nickname — “Brodie! Brodie!” — when he hit a pair of clutch free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining.
The Houston fan base considered Westbrook a villain when he won the MVP over Harden in 2016-17, when Westbrook broke Robertson’s 55-year-old record for triple-doubles in a season with 42. Those fans are now enjoying Westbrook’s uniquely electrifying game, as he has averaged 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists through the Rockets’ first two games.
“Russ has been carrying us, man,” Houston guard Austin Rivers said. “He’s been unbelievable. His energy, I’ve never seen anything like it. The energy he plays with is unmatched. He goes out there and gets rebounds over 7-footers, pushes it every possession. It’s inspiring, to be honest with you. It makes you pick up your energy.”
Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, acknowledged that passing Lakers legend Johnson was particularly meaningful to him
“I never get a chance to think about what I’ve done,” said Westbrook, who also holds the record for consecutive triple-doubles with a streak of 10 in a row last season, one more than Wilt Chamberlain’s run in 1968. “Tonight will be one of those times that I’ll take a second and think about it and be grateful to be able to go out and compete and do something like that.”