DENVER — NBA history was made with 4:18 left in the fourth quarter as Russell Westbrook recorded his 10th assist of the night on a Semaj Christon corner three, giving the likely Most Valuable Player his 42nd triple-double, passing Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson for most in an NBA season.
But as the Thunder tried to get Westbrook his record, the Nuggets went about their business, methodically building a 12–point lead midway through the fourth quarter, playing their brand of basketball.
But then Westbrook happened.
A buzzer-beating game-winning three from well beyond the three-point line capped a furious rally for the Thunder, ending Denver’s season and giving the Thunder a 106-105 win.
“We played really good initial defense on that side out of bounds play. They had to pass the ball into Adams. We took away all their other options on that pass. We lost sight of Westbrook for a split second and he makes a dagger.”
After a first half where both the Nuggets and Thunder carefully measured each other, Denver used a 38-point third quarter highlighted by 22 points from Danilo Gallinari, who showed out in what could be the potential free agent’s last home game in a Nuggets uniform.
Gallinari put on a show for a lively Mile High crowd, recording 34 points and 10 rebounds.
It was a surreal atmosphere inside Pepsi Center as the pro-Westbrook crowd rose in anticipation for possession after possession with the point guard sitting at nine assists since the 2:31 mark of the third quarter. Eventually, Westbrook got his tenth, but it came at a cost. Oklahoma City was taken out of their offensive flow for much of the fourth, perhaps costing them the game.
Westbrook bailed out his team with an incredible 36-foot three that put a capper on his MVP season.
“He’s a hell of a player. MVP candidate,” Michael Malone said of Westbrook. As many plays as he made down the stretch, I truly feel that we lost the game,”