With 28 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in a 126-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, Russell Westbrook carved out yet another piece of triple-double history.
The Houston Rockets point guard posted his 139th career triple-double against the Pelicans, moving him past Magic Johnson into sole possession of second place on the NBA’s all-time triple-double list. Only Oscar Robertson, the patron saint of triple-doubles, lies ahead.
Naturally, Johnson logged onto Twitter yet again to congratulate Westbrook on the achievement.
Congratulations to Russell Westbrook for passing me and having the 2nd-most triple-doubles in NBA history! https://t.co/y3KgYXsjJB— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 27, 2019
Westbrook and James Harden combined for nearly half of the Rockets’ 126 points with 57, continuing a trend for the Rockets that figures to define their season. Less good for the team is the pair combined to go 17-of-46 from the field and 3-of-21 from 3-point range (16 of those deep misses belonged to Harden).
Will Russell Westbrook catch Oscar Robertson?
The obvious question now is if Westbrook will eventually reach Robertson. The answer to that could be a legitimate toss-up.
On the pro side for Westbrook capturing the record, there’s the fact that not even Robertson can match the pace Westbrook has been on since Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016. Westbrook has already broken Robertson’s records for most triple-doubles in a season with 42, most consecutive triple-doubles with 10 and most seasons averaging a triple-double with three straight.
If Westbrook continues his pace of 33.7 triple-doubles over the past three seasons, he should be on track to catch Robertson by the end of next season.
However, time is not exactly on Westbrook’s side, even with that pace. For starters, Westbrook is less than a month from turning 31 years old and is known for a physical style of play, so you never know when a drop-off might happen.
Westbrook also has a disadvantage in the race because of his new team’s pace of play. The point guard moved from a team that was sixth in the NBA in pace last season to No. 27. Of course, Westbrook had a hand in setting that pace and could do the same with the Rockets, so that’s yet another repercussion of the Harden vs. Westbrook debate for who should control the steering wheel on offense.
Essentially, it all boils down to whether or not Russell Westbrook will remain the Russell Westbrook we know and love and sometimes criticize for inefficiency and off-ball malaise now that he’s in Houston. Given that he was just three assists shy of a triple-double in the Rockets’ other game, the results are encouraging so far.
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