Russell Westbrook continued his otherworldly play on Friday, notching yet another triple-double on the way to carrying his team to a win over the Timberwolves.
The triple-double was the sixth Westbrook has notched in his last eight games, but appears to have been awarded in dubious fashion.
It’s customary for hometown scorekeepers to be a little overly-generous with certain statistics; assists, for example, are ones where we’ve seen a player in his home arena get the benefit of the doubt. But on Friday, Westbrook’s final rebound was awarded well after the play occurred, which made it more than a little bit suspect.
From Royce Young of ESPN.com:
The Thunder were enjoying an impressive blowout over the young Minnesota Timberwolves, and Westbrook was going to be left to watch the final couple of minutes a single rebound short. That’s when he took matters into his own hands. He looked over at the Thunder’s official scorekeepers, holding his arm up.
“Tip?” he said, nodding his head. “Tip?”
A quick conference at the scorer’s table and right around the time the buzzer sounded on the Thunder’s 113-99 win, Westbrook suddenly had his triple-double: 29 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. His eighth of the season, sixth in the last eight games, and the first player since Jason Kidd in 2007-08 to have eight or more in a season (Kidd had 13).
The rebound appears to be a tad dubious, an offensive board awarded with 2:35 left where Westbrook went up to tip back a missed 3-point attempt by D.J. Augustin. Westbrook was given a missed shot on it, so everything is on the up and up, but still, hard not to raise an eyebrow.
Here’s the rebound in question:
One way to look at this is as the scorekeepers did, which is that Westbrook getting a hand on the ball was somehow a shot attempt, which means crediting him with a rebound and a missed field goal is proper in this situation.
The NBA rulebook, however, doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Here’s how it defines a field goal attempt (emphasis mine):
“A field goal attempt is a player’s attempt to shoot the ball into his basket for a field goal. The act of shooting starts when, in the official’s judgment, the player has started his shooting motion and continues until the shooting motion ceases and he returns to a normal floor position. It is not essential that the ball leave the shooter’s hand. His arm(s) might be held so that he cannot actually make an attempt.
“The term is also used to include the flight of the ball until it becomes dead or is touched by a player. A tap during a jump ball or rebound is not considered a field goal attempt. However, anytime a live ball is in flight toward the rim from the playing court, the goal, if made, shall count, even if time expires or the official’s whistle sounds. The field goal will not be scored if time on the game clock expires before the ball leaves the player’s hand or the ball is in flight toward the rim.”
We’ll see if the league sees fit to review this one, the way it did with a triple-double that LeBron James initially recorded earlier this season — which ultimately resulted in the removal of some questionable statistics.
Andre Drummond of the Pistons saw two of his offensive rebounds taken away by the league this week, which were also considered to be “tips.”