Westbrook, Thunder look to stay hot vs. Grizzlies
With Paul George handling the biggest part of the scoring load for the Oklahoma City Thunder so far this season, it's taken some time for Russell Westbrook to adjust.
For much of the season, the Thunder (34-19) have been carried by their defense. But over the last two weeks, as Westbrook has put together a historic streak of triple-doubles, Oklahoma City's offense has been carrying the load, with Westbrook at the center of it.
Thursday, the Thunder host the Memphis Grizzlies with Westbrook looking to become just the second player in NBA history to record eight consecutive triple-doubles.
"I can't say enough for the credit he deserves for our offense being at the level it's at," George said.
During the streak, Westbrook has averaged 14.4 assists per game and less than three 3-point attempts. In his first 38 games of the season, Westbrook averaged 10.5 assists and nearly five 3-point tries, despite making just 24.2 percent.
He's driving to the basket more and creating looks for teammates, including George, who is averaging 35.9 points per game during Westbrook's streak.
Westbrook is one of only four players -- along with Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson -- to have a streak of seven or more triple-doubles in a row. Only Chamberlain has recorded more than seven consecutive, when he had nine straight in 1968.
It's Westbrook's third career streak of seven consecutive triple-doubles. He hasn't been able to extend it to eight, though.
Late in the 2016-17 season, Westbrook finished one rebound short of extending the streak against the Grizzlies in a game where he scored 45 points. Earlier that season, he finished four assists short of extending another seven-game streak.
No major deals are expected by the Thunder before Thursday's trade deadline, though they could make a move to shore up their depth.
Memphis (22-33), though, could look like a completely different team by the time Thursday's game rolls around.
Veterans Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, who have spent all of their combined 23 seasons in the league with the Grizzlies, could both be dealt by the deadline. The two are the longest-tenured active teammates in the league.
Gasol was held out of Tuesday's win over Minnesota with reports surfacing that he could be dealt to Charlotte, though no deal had been announced as of Wednesday afternoon. Gasol received a standing ovation once he made his way to the Memphis bench during the game.
Conley did play, scoring 25 points in his 771st and potentially final game with the Grizzlies.
"It's tough," Conley said after the game. "Not having 1/8Gasol 3/8 out there tonight is tough in itself. But knowing what's possible after tonight is going to be hard for a lot of us, especially myself, knowing how many years we played together and knowing this is basically the last opportunity to be around him in the Grizzlies organization is surreal."
Memphis comes into the game having won two consecutive games but is just 10-28 after a promising 12-5 start to the season.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 6, 2019