Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is the leading candidate for the NBA MVP award this season, and he showed why in Oklahoma City’s 117-112 win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night at TD Garden.
Westbrook dropped a game-high 45 points in yet another triple-double performance. The Celtics simply had no answer for him.
The Thunder improved to 18-12 with the victory, while the C’s dropped to 17-13.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Al Horford
Johnson started off hot with nine points in the first half of the opening quarter. That point total exceeded the amount he scored in 24 of Boston’s previous 29 games. Most of those first-quarter buckets were second-chance points from offensive rebounds. Johnson was aggressive on the glass and OKC did a poor job boxing him out.
‘THUNDER UP’ AT THE HALF
Westbrook scored 14 points in the second quarter, which drove the Thunder to a 58-54 halftime lead. Thunder forward Domantas Sabonis was the star of the half for OKC. He poured in a team-high 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting, including a 3-for-3 mark from beyond the arc. Backup center Enes Kanter added 11 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Boston’s six turnovers in the second quarter also aided the Thunder’s comeback.
IT4 HEATS UP IN FOURTH QUARTER
Thomas took over for the C’s in the fourth quarter, as he’s done so many times this season, scoring 15 points in the first five minutes of the frame. He pulled the Celtics even at 96-96, erasing a deficit that grew to 10 points at one stage in the third quarter. IT entered the game with the league’s second-best scoring average in fourth quarter at 8.4 points. He finished with 34 points overall, but was just 2-for-8 from 3-point range.
The Celtics did a nice job shutting down Westbrook in the first quarter. He scored just two points on 0-for-5 shooting as Bradley and Marcus Smart locked him up.
Westbrook came alive in the second quarter, though, and posted a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists by the 5:56 mark of the fourth quarter. The Celtics hadn’t allowed a triple-double in an NBA-high 231 games entering Friday.
The MVP candidate did a lot of damage in the fourth quarter, too. He scored 20 points in the final 12 minutes, including 10 (with two deep 3-point shots) in the last 1:13.
Westbrook finished with 45 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, maintaining his triple-double averages for the season.
PLAY OF THE GAME
A sensational play from Horford.
The Celtics will travel to New York for a Christmas Day game against the Knicks at noon ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images