Love him or hate him, Russell Westbrook is certainly one of the greatest players in NBA history.
As he led the Houston Rockets to their first victory of the season in a narrow 126-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night, Westbrook posted a triple-double — and surpassed Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson for second place on the all-time triple doubles list in NBA history with his 139th such output.
As you can see in the highlight above, Westbrook finished with a nice stat line of 28 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.
Magic Johnson Congratulates Russell Westbrook Over Twitter
Johnson didn’t waste any time in congratulating Westbrook on surpassing him on the NBA’s career triple-doubles list.
Westbrook — who is known for his competitive desire to win rather than caring about his statistical performances — expressed his gratitude towards surpassing one of the greatest players ever on the career triple-doubles list, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
“I know nowadays, getting a triple-double seems normal, but I take a pride, a lot of energy, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of things I do off the floor to prepare myself to be able to compete every single night and play at a high level,” Westbrook said. “For me, that’s a great accomplishment, especially growing up and never even thinking I’d be playing in the NBA. Now being there and being in the history books is just a blessing to me and something that I don’t take for granted one bit.”
For those that aren’t aware, Oscar Robertson had 181 career triple-doubles. While Robertson was the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double in a single season prior to Westbrook, the veteran guard has not only done it once — he’s done it in three consecutive seasons.
Westbrook — Not Harden — Has Carried the Rockets
Westbrook has been a stabilizing presence for the Rockets through the first two games of the season. After coming up just short in their season-opening loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night, the Rockets bounced back with a much-needed win over the Pelicans in their second game.
Despite his rough preseason, Westbrook has had an efficient start to the 2019-20 regular season. The 30-year-old guard is averaging 26.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game on 47.1 percent from the field and 40.0 from beyond the arc.
Those numbers are far superior to the 16.3 points per game he averaged on 41.5 percent from the field, 25.9 percent from beyond the arc and the 5.3 turnovers per game during the preseason.
More importantly, his sensational start to the season is far better than his counterpart, James Harden, who is off to a very disappointing start to the season. The former MVP had an absolutely terrible game versus the Pelicans, converting on just 2-of-18 3-point attempts while needing 29 shots to get his 29 points.
Through the first two games of the season, Harden is averaging 24.0 points per game on 23.8 percent from the field and 11.5 percent from beyond the arc. He has an atrocious 10.48 PER rating — which is not even good for the top 150 in the league.
“Russ has been carrying us, man,” Houston guard Austin Rivers said. “He’s been unbelievable. His energy, I’ve never seen anything like it. The energy he plays with is unmatched. He goes out there and gets rebounds over 7-footers, pushes it every possession. It’s inspiring, to be honest with you. It makes you pick up your energy.”
Westbrook will have another opportunity to carry the Rockets when they host his former team — the Oklahoma City Thunder — on Monday night.