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Russell Westbrook: ‘This triple-double thing is kind of getting on my nerves’

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Russell Westbrook has now gone three straight games without a triple-double, which is his longest streak without achieving the feat in more than a month – which is amazing.

Westbrook – averaging 30.5 points, 10.6 assists and 10.5 rebounds per game – is on pace to join Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for a full season. Westbrook has nearly as many triple-doubles this season (12) as the rest of the NBA combined (16). His seven-game triple-double streak, the longest since Michael Jordan, was widely celebrated.

But with the Thunder hitting a small rough patch – losing to the Trail Blazers by 19 and Jazz by 20 the last two days – Westbrook wants to find a new topic.

Westbrook, via Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript

“I just know, go out and play every night. That’s it,” Westbrook said. “I really don’t care what people think is real and what’s not. I just go out and compete, and that’s it. Honestly man, people in this triple-double thing is kind of getting on my nerves, honestly.

“People think that if I don’t get it, it’s like a big thing,” he said. “When I do get it, it is a thing. If you would just let me play and if I get it, I get it. If I don’t, I don’t.”

If Westbrook doesn’t want people to talk about triple-doubles so much, he shouldn’t chase them.

Yes, Westbrook breaks from the script to seek double-digit rebounds and assists – and his teammates help. They box out for him to pull rebounds from them and shoot off his passes when it isn’t always wise.

Sure, there are advantages to this style. Westbrook can turn a defense rebound into an attack on the other end more quickly than anyone in the league. Westbrook dominating the ball offensively, either shooting himself or setting up the shooter, isn’t a half-bad offense considering the rest of Oklahoma City’s roster.

But also believe this: If triple-doubles weren’t a statistical accomplishment anyone noticed, Westbrook would play differently.

That hardly makes him unique. Draymond Green, LeBron James and countless others have chased triple-doubles. Westbrook’s natural play just gets him close enough to chase more often, and he indulges that temptation for statistical accomplishment.

When it works – the Thunder are 28-3 in his triple-double games the last two years, including playoffs – Westbrook seems proud, though he always downplays his individual statistics. When it doesn’t, he suddenly blames anyone discussing it. If everyone ignored his triple-doubles going forward, I wonder how that would go over.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant ejected at end of loss to Grizzlies

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Stephen Curry is going to get fined for this.

The former MVP was frustrated, his team losing and thinking he was fouled by Mike Conley as he attacked the rim late in the Warriors loss in Memphis Saturday night. Curry threw his mouthpiece at the referee, which deservedly got him ejected instantly.

Durant followed him to the locker room, making a gesture that will earn him a fine as well.

The Warriors are 1-2 to start the season and there are a lot of factors at play. The China trip does this to teams, and throw in three straight trips to the Finals on top of it and it has an impact. The team is a little banged up. However, the biggest issue is their defense is a mess right now.

The Warriors will straighten it out eventually, but the start of the season could be a rough one for them.

Pacers owner says team not for sale, will not be moved from Indianapolis

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There are more than a few NBA owners who are seeing the prices teams are being sold for — the Rockets just sold for a record $2.2 billion — and considering their options. Some other billionaires are looking for teams, several with the goal of packing up the franchise and moving it to their respected hometowns.

Those billionaires need not call Herb Simon. The Pacers owner said the team is not going anywhere, speaking to Gregg Doyel of the IndyStar.

“I want to leave my legacy: This team permanently in Indianapolis,” Simon told IndyStar Friday in an interview at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “That’s my No. 1 goal.”

Simon bought the Pacers in 1983 with his older brother, Melvin — who died in 2009 at age 82. He told IndyStar the team someday will be owned by his 53-year-old son, Steve. Behind the scenes, Steve Simon has been working closely with Pacers Sports and President Rick Fuson for five years — “He knows more about the dollars and cents than I do,” Herb said of his son — and met this week with several department heads.

“If anything happens to me, he’d be taking over,” Herb said, adding that father and son are on the same page: The Pacers are staying in Indianapolis.

Good. That is as it should be.

Indiana is part of America’s basketball heartland, and it should have a team. Pacers fans are smart and loyal, and the team has a long history going back to the ABA, running from Mel Daniels and George McGinnis through Reggie Miller and up to Myles Turner (hopefully he can be on the level of the rest of them someday). They play in the coolest basketball building in the league, one with the history of the sport wolven in.

Indy is the nation’s 27th largest television market, bigger than San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and other successful NBA franchises. There is no reason the Pacers cannot thrive, so long as ownership is committed.

They are. Which is excellent news for Pacers’ fans.

Stan Van Gundy speaks out again in support of protesting athletes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy used his team’s trip to Washington to again voice his support for athletes who kneel during the national anthem and his opposition to President Donald Trump.

Van Gundy was asked before Friday night’s game against the Wizards what he hoped would result from the president’s criticism of NFL players who refuse to stand for the anthem and the resulting national dialogue about political activism by professional athletes.

“I don’t know what good can come out of anything the president has said,” Van Gundy said. “As far as the athletes’ protest, I hope people would pay attention to the issues that caused the protest in the first place and realize that we have problem disproportionately with police brutality towards men of color.”

Van Gundy also criticized fans who have booed those athletes because they believe the gesture is disrespectful to the United States military.

“I thought that one of the things the military is fighting for is the American way of life and our values, which I think starts with freedom of speech,” Van Gundy said. “Our country was founded on protest. Otherwise, we would still be a colony of England. You would think people would appreciate non-violent protests that will be made.

“If you don’t stand for freedom of speech and you don’t think those players have the right to freedom of speech, what American values are you for?”

It was not the first time Van Gundy has spoken out on these issues. When Trump was elected last November, Van Gundy told the Detroit Free Press it was the first time he had been “ashamed” of his country.

Last month on the team’s media day, he read a prepared statement in support of athletes who use their visibility for political purposes, including protests during the anthem. The NBA has a policy requiring that players stand for the anthem.

The Pistons’ visit to Washington was their first since Jan. 21, one day after Trump’s inauguration.

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Cavaliers’ Derrick Rose out Saturday with sprained left ankle

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers point guard Derrick Rose was held out of Saturday night’s game against the Orlando Magic because of a sprained left ankle.

Rose twisted his ankle after being fouled by Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe while driving to the basket in the fourth quarter on Friday. Monroe grabbed Rose by his neck and pulled him to the floor.

Rose landed awkwardly, but stayed in the game to shoot two free throws before going to the bench. The play was originally called a common foul but was upgraded to a flagrant 1 Saturday by the NBA.

Jose Calderon started at point guard Saturday for the Cavaliers, who have won their first two games.

Rose signed a one-year contract with Cleveland in July. He became the team’s starter when Kyrie Irving was traded to Boston. Rose was named the league’s MVP in 2011 while with the Chicago Bulls, but has battled injuries since.