Thunder PG Westbrook looks for another triple-double against Magic
Russell Westbrook hasn't had his best offensive season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, shooting a career-low 41.8 percent from the field and just 25 percent from behind the 3-point line.
But heading into Tuesday's home game against the Orlando Magic, the Thunder point guard is on a roll.
To be sure, a big part of that stems from his six consecutive triple-doubles. Another would give Westbrook three streaks of seven consecutive triple-doubles in his career.
But also, Westbrook has been better from the field of late, shooting 44 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from behind the arc during this six-game stretch.
Westbrook is on pace to average a triple-double for the third consecutive season. Only Oscar Robertson had ever accomplished the feat over a season before Westbrook did it for the first time in 2016-17.
Paul George has been a big beneficiary of Westbrook's play lately, averaging 35.3 points per game over the last six.
Oklahoma City is coming off Sunday's loss at Boston which snapped a seven-game winning streak.
In that game, Westbrook played a big part in a late-game run that put the Thunder within striking distance, but his late turnover helped the Celtics hold on for the win.
"Late game like that, I've just to take care of the ball," Westbrook said. "So that's on me."
The two meetings between these teams are tightly packed in the schedule.
Last Tuesday, Oklahoma City used a 35-point fourth quarter to come from behind and beat the Magic 126-117 in Orlando.
The Magic come into the game having won back-to-back games. A win would tie Orlando's season-long winning streak.
Orlando is just three games out of playoff position as it works to make the postseason for the first time since 2012.
The last games before the break will be critical for the Magic, with four coming against teams with below-.500 records. Only Tuesday's game against the Thunder and Saturday's in Milwaukee will be played against above-.500 teams.
"It's very important to get on a run. I think we have it in us," center Nikola Vucevic told reporters. "Hopefully, if we pull off performances like we did the last few games I think we'll have a shot."
While the Magic have shown flashes of a team capable of stringing together enough wins to make a run at a postseason berth, they haven't been able to sustain any kind of momentum long term.
"We're too inconsistent. That's been the whole thing this season," guard Evan Fournier said. "Can we have that same intensity and same focus for the rest of the season? That's going to be the challenge for us."
Orlando is expected to be without rookie center Mohamed Bamba, who is experiencing soreness in his lower left leg. Bamba also missed Saturday's win over Brooklyn.
Also, Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons is questionable with an abdominal strain. Simmons has missed the last two games.
The status for Oklahoma City's Abdel Nader, who missed Sunday's game due to illness, is not clear.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 4, 2019