Russell Westbrook wanted the record — to secure a triple-double for the season and then to get his 42nd triple-double of this season, breaking Oscar Robertson’s record.
Westbrook needed just six assists to guarantee he would average a triple-double for the season, and from the start of the game he was clearly hunting them. He got his buckets, but he passed up open looks to try to feed teammates. In the third quarter, Westbrook got his sixth assist.
But as the game wound down, with the Thunder down by around 20 most of the time, Billy Donovan kept Westbrook in to get his 42nd triple-double — Westbrook needed a few more assists, and he was hunting them. He was ignoring good shots to try to get them. Westbrook all but admitted it, but in a NSFW way reminded everyone he was not shooting the ball well so he should pass.
Westbrook on if he was trying to pad assists late: "I was 6 for 25. What the f*** you want me to do?" (NSFW, of course) pic.twitter.com/9M6sLMxQy8
The Phoenix Suns were determined not to let Westbrook get that record on their watch. It was obvious.
Jack Maloney at CBSSports.com had a great breakdown, but if you watch the Suns at the end of the game they dared Westbrook to shoot and tried to take away his passing options. This screen shot from the CBS post best shows how the Suns defended the final plays — Westbrook is left wide open.
Westbrook passed up the shot to hit a cutting Steven Adams in the paint, and he was fouled before he could shoot, denying any chance at an assist. And so it went every time down, even with the Suns fouling Westbrook and sending him to the line. At 2:34, he basically subbed himself out and accepted the numbers will have to come another day.
Westbrook has three more chances to get his 42nd triple-double. He has hunted some stats all season (usually rebounds), but the fact remains he was close enough to get those triple-doubles, and the Thunder win three-quarters of their games when he gets one, but only a third of their games when he doesn’t. He has to put up huge numbers for the Thunder to have a chance.
Reports: Lakers to sign Andrew Bogut to one-year deal
Lakers’ coach Luke Walton coached Bogut at Golden State, and that connection helped get him to Los Angeles when Boston, Minnesota, and Cleveland were also trying to land his services. Bogut gets the system Walton wants to run and wants to be part of this new Lakers team.
The question with Bogut is always health. He can be a solid defensive big in the paint and is a good passer, but last season he broke his tibia in his first game with the Cavaliers, the latest in a long line of health concerns. Bogut’s doctors have cleared him to play.
The Lakers also add a solid veteran presence to help mentor those young bigs (although if Bogut is taking minutes from them it seems counterproductive). Bogut can show Zubac and Bryant the art of setting the best illegal screens in the league (he’s a master, Lonzo Ball will love him). We’ll see how many minutes Bogut gets when it matters.
This one-year deal gives the Lakers another potential trade chip and does not mess with their cap space next summer, when they want to clear out room and go after two max free agents (which will mean dumping the contract of Luol Deng, likely with Julius Randle or someone as a sweetener, to get the space). For Bogut, stay healthy and play well and he might come back on a minimum contract to a stacked Lakers team next season.
Report: Grizzlies to sign Ivan Rabb, adds to already crowded roster
The Grizzlies and second-round pick Ivan Rabb are close to agreeing terms on a three-year contract, a source told The Undefeated.
Two years of that are rumored to be guaranteed. If so, that leads to questions about who gets cut from the roster and paid anyway? Or, are the Grizzlies setting themselves up for a trade during camp? Also, Mario Chalmers is going to have to show enough skill for another team to grab him.
Rabb is a 6’10” guy with potential but a lot of development to do. He may be more of a four than a small ball five, but he needs time on the court to find out and show off his game. He didn’t get a lot of that time to show what he can do in Summer League due to a sprained ankle. He should get run in Grizzlies camp, where there are going to be some interesting roster battles.
Report: Andrew Wiggins to sign $148M max extension before camp opens
Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game last season, shot 35.7 percent from three, plus played solid defense, but he’s got a big new challenge this season — mesh with Jimmy Butler. Wiggins and Butler both play on the wing and have similar games — except Butler is pretty much better at everything. Thibodeau doesn’t want to have Wiggins just sitting on the weak side as a floor spacer most of the time, he’s got to get him involved. Problem is Karl-Anthony Towns is a flat-out stud who has to get a lot of touches, and while we’re at it Jeff Teague is better with the ball in his hands as well.
Can Wiggins improve his efficiency with fewer touches? Can he make the needed sacrifices to win and still find a way to assert himself (a question for a lot of the Timberwolves this season)? Wiggins has gotten his big payday, this season we start to see if he can take the next steps to being truly an elite player.
Watch Stephen Curry drill a penalty kick at Chelsea’s stadium
Chelsea is off to an expected strong start to the English Premier League season, racking up 10 points (3-1-1) in five contests, with a solid +3 goal differential. (That has them just one spot ahead of my beloved Newcastle, which is an unexpected fourth with nine points through five… I’m good with calling it a season right now and taking these standings).