On Friday night, Kawhi Leonard registered his first career triple-double in a 122-117 win against the Miami Heat. On the same night, Russell Westbrook scored 45 points; a season high for the Houston Rockets point guard in a 131-124 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 26-10-10 triple-double is the first of Leonard’s career, which comes as a surprise when he is regarded as one of the most complete players in the league. The combination of scoring and defending makes him a total package, but the San Diego State product isn’t the playmaker that most of his peers are.
For reference, LeBron James has 91 career regular-season triple-doubles, to Leonard’s one. In the NBA Finals alone, James has 10 triple-doubles throughout his career.
This was the eighth straight game without Paul George, so Leonard was once again the primary ball handler for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook might be a player who is snubbed in this year’s All-Star Game despite averaging 25.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists. The numbers he puts up now just don’t have the same effect they used to.
With James Harden in a shooting slump, Westbrook had to become the main option against the Timberwolves. In the past, the Rockets would surely lose a game in which Harden was anything less than amazing in. With Westbrook, Harden is able to have off nights and the team still survive. Against the Timberwolves, Harden shot 3-of-13 from the field and 0-of-6 from the three-point line.
In the win against the Timberwolves, Westbrook scored a season-high 45 points, adding 10 assists and six rebounds. What’s peculiar about the performance is the efficient shooting, as Westbrook shot 16-of-27 from the field and 13-of-13 from the free throw line. He is the first guard since Dwyane Wade in 2007 to score at least 45 points without a three-point attempt.
Over the last seven games, Westbrook is averaging 33.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 9.1 assists for a Rockets team that is fighting for a higher seeding in the Western Conference.