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Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Spurs

Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder posted his 19th triple-double of the NBA season against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. AFP
Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder posted his 19th triple-double of the NBA season against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. AFP

Westbrook triple-double lifts Thunder over Spurs

Russell Westbrook notched his 19th triple-double of the NBA season and the Oklahoma City reserves contributed 50 points Saturday as the Thunder beat the reeling San Antonio Spurs 104-94.

Westbrook scored 21 points and added 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the Thunder improved to 6-3 since the All-Star break.

The Thunder held Spurs star LaMarcus Aldridge to 11 points on five-of-16 shooting as San Antonio lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

“They were very aggressive,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They did a good job. He didn’t have one of his best nights, that’s for sure, but his effort was great. It just didn’t work for him tonight, and OKC was a big part of that.”

The Spurs, who have slipped to seventh in the Western Conference, are now assured of having a losing road record for the first time in 21 seasons.

Their chances of extending their NBA record streak of 20 straight playoff appearances also look to be dwindling, although the San Antonio could be bolstered next week by the return of Kawhi Leonard from a 20-game injury absence.

The Thunder jumped to fifth in the West, but will be concerned after Steven Adams sprained his left ankle when he came down hard early in the third quarter.

Nick Collison, a 37-year-old reserve forward, helped fill the void, entering the game in the fourth quarter and scoring seven points in less than three minutes.

“He puts in the work and he’s always ready to go,” Westbrook said. “Tonight was one of those nights where he got his number called and he answered like he does every time. It’s a blessing to be on the floor with a guy like him. He’s so unselfish. It’s good to see.”

In Los Angeles, Lou Williams scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Clippers to a 113-105 victory over the Orlando Magic.

The victory kept the Clippers in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, a half-game ahead of the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz.

Against an Orlando team lying last in the East, Los Angeles jumped to a 10-0 lead. But the Magic responded and led 58-56 at half-time.

Los Angeles buckled down on defence in the fourth, outscoring the Magic 26-16 in the final period to gain the much needed victory a night after an impressive win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Tonight was a struggle. You could just see it,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You come off the game last night. I just thought it was a mental struggle for us.”

Heat rout Wizards

The Miami Heat moved within half a game of the sixth-placed Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference with a convincing 129-102 victory over the Washington Wizards.

James Johnson scored 20 points to lead eight Heat players in double figures.

Up 60-48 at half-time, the Heat out-scored the weary Wizards 43-28 in the third quarter and cruised home despite the absence of centre Hassan Whiteside, who was a late scratch with a sore left hip.

“We were doing shootaround and I felt something,” Whiteside said. “I strained my hip flexor.”

The Heat also saw veteran Dwyane Wade depart in the fourth quarter with a strained hamstring, but that proved no obstacle as the team avenged an overtime loss to the Wizards in Washington on Tuesday.

“Our energy was great, both ends of the court,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Right from the beginning, it looked like we were the more aggressive, faster, quicker team.

“And they’re coming off a back to back and they had to travel from New Orleans. That was part of what we wanted to do. But again, our depth and multiple guys being able to contribute, that’s the strength of our team.”

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