Russell Westbrook hit a jumper with 18.7 seconds left and finished with 35 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder remained unbeaten with an 85-83 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Westbrook added six rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, who surged in the final minutes of a tight meeting between Western Conference contenders.
Westbrook had triple-doubles in the Thunder’s last two games, and was one assist shy of another in their opener. He mostly concentrated on scoring in his hometown, delivering a spectacular dunk in the third quarter while going 14 for 30 in 31 minutes.
Chris Paul had 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Clippers, who hit just one shot in a 5 1/2-minute span late in the fourth quarter.
With a momentous visit to Golden State for a reunion with Kevin Durant looming Thursday night, the Thunder could have been excused for looking ahead. Instead, Westbrook added another gutsy performance to his incredible start to his first season as the main man.
Westbrook’s layup put the Thunder up 81-78 with 2:17 left, and he converted Jamal Crawford’s turnover into a dunk 66 seconds later. J.J. Redick hit a 3-pointer to trim Oklahoma City’s lead to two points, but Westbrook knocked a loose ball off the Clippers following Andre Roberson’s second missed free throw, and then he hit a 17-footer to essentially seal it.
Westbrook averaged 38.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 11.7 assists in a spectacular three-game start to the Thunder’s post-Durant season. He became the first player since Magic Johnson in 1982 to start a season with triple-doubles in two of the first three games
Westbrook had 16 points, four assists and two rebounds in the first half.
Thunder: Alex Abrines only played the final 12.3 seconds of the first half, but he hit a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to stake OKC to a 49-41 lead. The former FC Barcelona regular finished with six points. … Victor Oladipo’s nine points were the second-most by an Oklahoma City player.
Clippers: LA’s early-season struggles from the 3-point line continued in the first half when the Clippers went 3 for 14, including 1 for 7 by the starters. … Blake Griffin had 14 points and nine rebounds. Marreese Speights had 14 points.
Jerami Grant made his Thunder debut one day after they acquired him from Philadelphia in a trade for Ersan Ilyasova and a protected draft pick. The third-year forward from Syracuse came off the bench in the second quarter and eventually finished with six points in 18 minutes.
Thunder: At Golden State on Thursday to complete a two-game California road trip.
Clippers: A two-game road trip begins in Memphis on Friday night.