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Russell Westbrook's 48 points wasted in Oklahoma Thunder loss to Phoenix Suns

By
Jerry Brown, The Sports Xchange
Eric Bledsoe led six Suns in double figures with 18 points and Phoenix overcame a 48-point, 17-rebound, nine-assist effort from Westbrook to beat the Oklahoma Thunder 118-111 on Friday. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Eric Bledsoe led six Suns in double figures with 18 points and Phoenix overcame a 48-point, 17-rebound, nine-assist effort from Westbrook to beat the Oklahoma Thunder 118-111 on Friday. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

March 4 (UPI) -- PHOENIX -- Another big scoring night and near-triple-double by Russell Westbrook was trumped by a balanced attack from the scrappy Phoenix Suns.

Eric Bledsoe led six Suns in double figures with 18 points and Phoenix overcame a 48-point, 17-rebound, nine-assist effort from Westbrook to beat the Oklahoma Thunder 118-111 on Friday.

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Westbrook had 20 points in the fourth quarter and recorded his career-high fourth straight 40-point game and his first with at least 40 points and 15 rebounds this season. He was one assist shy of his 31st triple-double, which would have tied Wilt Chamberlain (1967-68) for the second-most triple doubles in a season. Oscar Robertson holds the NBA record with 41 in 1961-62.

Westbrook had two shots at his 10th assist in the final 20 seconds but Jermi Grant, who was 0-for-6 from the field, missed both jumpers. The Thunder (35-26) fell a game behind the sixth-place Memphis Grizzlies and a game and a half behind the fifth-place Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference playoff race.

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"Triple-doubles doesn't mean anything if you don't win," said Westbrook, who had 13 40-point games this season. "It's toward the end of the season. We're fighting for spots and playoffs and things of that nature so we've got to get wins and compete at a high level every night.

"We just put ourselves in a hole, man. Not getting stops when we needed to and obviously not finishing the game."

Devin Booker had 17 points and T.J. Warren had 15 for the Suns (20-42), who have won three straight at home.

After getting 53 points in a win over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday, the Phoenix bench scored 55 more against the Thunder. Alan Williams had 14 points and 13 rebounds, Tyler Ulis had 14 points and seven assists and Leandro Barbosa had 14 points, including a 3-pointer to stretch the Suns' lead to 109-101 with 56.6 seconds left.

Phoenix had six players score at least 14 points in back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 1 and 4, 1971.

The Suns saluted broadcaster Al McCoy, who was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at halftime for his 45 years of play-by-play, by coming over to shake his hand after the win.

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"It's not often you can write a script like this," said Williams, who grew up in Phoenix and whose mother is now the Chief of Police. "If you left a game early or couldn't get to a game, Al was on the radio and my dad and my brother and I would be listening. Getting to know him and see the man behind the voice has been truly special."

The Suns missed 14 of their first 17 shots and feel behind 24-12 in the first nine minutes. But the bench ended the quarter with an 11-4 run and took their first lead at 33-32 on Williams' layup with 7:40 left.

Less than a minute later, Westbrook got into a shoving match with Suns rookie Derrick Jones Jr. and bloodied his lip with an elbow, resulting in double technical fouls.

"Where I'm from, you don't back down from the challenge," Jones Jr. said.

That seemed to spark the Suns, who pushed their lead to as many as eight in the quarter.

Suns coach Earl Watson said despite Westbrook's gaudy stat line, he was happy how his team answered back -- especially Jones Jr. who drew the defensive assignment on Westbrook for much of his 15 minutes.

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"Russ is the MVP of our league, but Derrick was pretty amazing," Watson said. "Russ had 48 (points), 17 (rebounds) and nine (assists), but (the scuffle) changed the game in terms of energy. It got the fans involved. It got out players edgy, it got us feisty and we just continued to roll with the momentum."

The Suns led by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter before Westbrook scored or assisted on 20 straight points, pulling them within 110-105 on a dunk with 37.1 seconds left. But the Thunder couldn't get any closer.

"I just go out and compete," Westbrook said. "My job is to continue to play and help my team win."

NOTES:

-- Suns G Leandro Barbosa played in his 544th game with Phoenix, passing Mark West for ninth on the all-time franchise list.

-- G Eric Bledsoe of the Suns and G Russell Westbrook of the Thunder are two of four players averaging at least 20 points, six assists and five rebounds a game this season, joining James Harden of the Houston Rockets and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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-- Hall of Famer Al McCoy, play-by-play man for more than 4,000 games over the past 45 seasons, became the 15th inductee into the Suns' Ring of Honor at halftime. Ring members Alvan Adams, Charles Barkley, Tom Chambers, Jerry Colangelo, Walter Davis and Paul Westphal were among those in attendance. The Suns are now 10-5 on their 15 Ring of Honor Nights.

-- The Suns have 88 triple-doubles in their 49-year history; Westbrook has 67 in his career.

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