OKLAHOMA CITY -- It can easily be said that this year is all about the triple-double for Russell Westbrook. Every night the Oklahoma City point guard takes the court, the league is on triple-double alert.
So it is no surprise that on the final day of 2016, Westbrook posted his 16th triple-double of the season to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 114-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Westbrook posted 17 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds. He actually hit the triple-double mark in less than 20 minutes in the first half. He is two triple-doubles away from matching his total from all of last season.
"It's a blessing man," Westbrook said. "My teammates do a great job of making it easy for me. My job is to keep the pace high and keeping reading the game. The game will tell you what to do and that's what I do."
Enes Kanter came off the bench to lead the Thunder in scoring with 23 points on 6 of 13 shooting. Victor Oladipo added 15 points while Alex Abrines added 12 points before being leaving the game late in the third quarter with concussion-like symptoms.
The Thunder (21-13) improved to 8-1 on New Year's Eve.
The Clippers (22-14), playing on the second half of a back-to-back, lost their sixth straight game.
"You can lose your spirit in this and we haven't done that," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "My job is to get us through this. This is a heavy hit for us. We're losing games, we're dropping placings. It's all good. At the end the day, we have to get through this, learn something. Learn something about each other."
The Thunder wasted no time in jumping on the undermanned Clippers.
Oladipo led the charge in the first quarter, showing no signs of rust after a nine game absence. His jump shots were falling from the outset as he knocked in a quick nine points as Oklahoma City held a 33-12 advantage.
"I was running fast, trying to get out on the break," Oladipo said. "I felt good, man. I just have to continue to build on it."
But it was the Thunder defense that set the tone. The 12 points they allowed in the first quarter was their lowest surrendered in any quarter this season.
Playing without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers were missing their two leading scorers and it showed in a 25-0 disadvantage in first-half fastbreak points. No other player could go get their own shot and the perimeter shots weren't falling.
Rivers and J.J. Redick had a combined zero points in the first 20 minutes.
"I'm not coaching for tomorrow," Los Angeles coach Rivers said. "I'm coaching for the end of the year. That's why I kept calling timeouts, kept making us run stuff, forcing us to run offense.''
Oklahoma City held a 69-40 halftime lead and Westbrook earned his fastest triple-double of the season.
The only drama in the second half took place when Westbrook picked up a technical foul while sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter. It was his 11th of the season and third in two games. A 16th technical foul will result in an automatic one-game suspension.
But even that wasn't enough to dampen Westbrook's outlook for 2017.
"Just continue on the path we're going," Westbrook said. "Keep moving in the right direction, make sure we're playing our best basketball at the end of the season."
NOTES: Oklahoma City G Victor Oladipo returned to the lineup after missing the past nine games with a wrist sprain. The Thunder went 5-4 during that span. "We felt in the Memphis game he was getting closer," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "He feels a lot better. We are not surprised with how long it took." ... Los Angeles G Chris Paul missed his fifth game in the last six outings because of the lingering affects of a left hamstring strain. Paul missed Friday night's contest in Houston. "Once we had decided yesterday," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, "we had pretty much decided today." ... Rivers said there was not going to be any punishment by the NBA on guard Austin Rivers after he was ejected from Friday's game when he bumped into a referee. "They didn't think...." coach Rivers said. "That's all I'm going to say. Obviously they didn't think it was an issue either way."