Monday night featured a matchup between what used to be two Western Conference powerhouses in the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers. Well, that was the past, and only the Thunder are a “powerhouse” in the West now, of course alongside Golden State and San Antonio. The Lakers are finishing off a franchise-worst record at (16-54) coming into tonight’s game. That didn’t matter much with this being Kobe Bryant’s last away game of his 20-year career.
We all know this is Kobe’s last season in the NBA and that alone brings a lot of emotion to the arena. It’s like the 112-79 victory over the Lakers was overshadowed with all the attention on Bryant, and honestly, that’s how it should’ve been.
Despite the obvious history, Russell Westbrook continued to re-write the record books himself with his 18th triple-double of the season, which puts him in the company of only Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in a season. This dating back to when Wilt first did it during the 1966-1967 season with 22 and then the following season breaking his own record with 31. Currently, Russell is tied with Johnson at 18. Also, he got that triple-double in the first half, yes just 17 minutes which is the first time that’s happened since Jim Tucker did it in 1955.
Bryant even took some time to talk about Russell and what he’s doing this season with all these triple-doubles.
“Yeah. I’ve never seen a guy get a triple-double as many times as he had in a season. This is pretty outrageous what he has been able to do all year long. It seems to fly underneath the radar because of what Steph is doing up there in Golden State and what they are doing as a team, but he is having a historic season himself. He is probably the most athletic player I’ve ever played against.”
-Kobe on Russell and if he’s seen a guy get a triple-double in the first half.
That should say it all. The most athletic player Kobe played against during his 20-year career. All the players he’s played with and against, the most athletic one is right here in Oklahoma City.
I knew Russell reminded me of a certain player when he first entered the league…It was Kobe Bryant and apparently my comparison was accurate, according to Bryant.
Kobe when asked how many similarities he sees between himself and Russell.
“A ton, a ton. I mean, I didn’t smile that much on the court either. He plays the game with such an energy, with such an aggressiveness, and it needs to be appreciated. It needs to be appreciated. ..He is not out there trying to be cute with the basketball. He is not out there trying to make friends. The guy is playing hard every time down. It takes a lot of energy to be able to do that, and he just never seems to run out of it.”
Before I finish, a quick blurb from Bryant on KD.
“He’s such a fantastic player, man. He has no flaws in his game. When he first came to the league, he eliminated his weaknesses that he hadn’t been able to pull up going right, pull up on the left. He has eliminated all of that. There’s literally nothing he can’t do offensively. I don’t see that streat stopping anytime soon.”
KD coincidentally broke Kobe’s record for consecutive games with 20 or more points. Today was Durant’s 64th straight game, breaking Kobe’s 63-straight back during the 2005-2006 season.