Russell Westbrook has been a man on a mission all season, and he put on a show at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. But he also got help from some of his biggest friends.
Derrick Rose wasn’t as lucky.
Rose and Westbrook waged an epic point guard battle. Rose scored 30 points in his best game as a Knick, but Westbrook performed at a higher level all the way around and filled out the box score like few can.
Westbrook had 27 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists for his third straight triple-double and the Thunder dominated inside in ending the Knicks’ home winning streak at six games with a 112-103 victory.
“He did it all,” Jeff Hornacek said. “He made big plays. The guy’s a great player. He played another great game.”
The game ended with the crowd booing after Carmelo Anthony missed a three-pointer in the closing seconds. Anthony had a terrible shooting night. He was 4-for-19 and didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter as the Knicks (8-9) slipped under .500 again.
Westbrook now has an NBA-leading eight triple-doubles, matching the output of the rest of the league this season. He was one assist shy of notching the triple-double in the first half and ultimately recorded it early in the third quarter.
Only Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson has averaged a triple-double for a season. Westbrook now is averaging one — 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.3 rebounds per game. But there is plenty of season left.
“Winning is sustainable,” Westbrook said. “That’s all I know, and my job is to make sure we go out and find the best way to win games. We’ve won three straight, and that’s the most important part for me.”
Rose did his best to apply as much pressure on Westbrook and the Thunder as he could. He shot 10-for-20 and had seven rebounds and four assists, but he said his first 30-point game as a Knicks didn’t matter.
“Thirty don’t mean nothing when you lose,” Rose said. “And the way that we lost, it wasn’t any grit, it wasn’t any grind. We can’t come out and play like that, period.”
Kristaps Porzingis added 21 points and Anthony had 18.
As spectacular as Westbrook was, the Knicks had major problems containing Thunder big men Enes Kanter and Steven Adams.
“They manhandled us,” Joakim Noah said.
Kanter matched Westbrook with 27 points off the bench and pulled down 10 rebounds. Adams had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Thunder (11-8) outrebounded the Knicks 53-40 and outscored the Knicks by 10 in second-chance points. Kanter had three offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter that he converted into layups, and two came during crunch time.
“They outmuscled us and they outhustled us,” Hornacek said. “We [said] you’re going to have to hit them and hit them hard. They were just tougher than us.
“There’s a difference in being big and strong and having a little nastiness. I think Adams and Kanter had a little nastiness to them. That’s where our bigs have to get, where you’re not afraid to knock a guy down, especially if he keeps shoving you under the basket. You’ve got to do something at some point.”
Noah agrees. “We just got to keep grinding, man,” he said. “It’s not fun to have that happen and have to answer questions about guys out rebounding you, out-competing you. But they’re a tough team. We’ll see them again.”