RUSSELL Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s National Basketball Association record for career triple-doubles with his 182nd on Monday. — WASHINGTON WIZARDS FB PAGE

Spurs get critical victory

RUSSELL Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s National Basketball Association (NBA) record for career triple-doubles with his 182nd on Monday.

Westbrook grabbed his 10th rebound of the night with 8:30 remaining in the fourth quarter as his Washington Wizards battled the host Atlanta Hawks. He already had 21 points and 16 assists in the game.

It was Westbrook’s 36th triple-double in 62 games this year.

Westbrook finished the night with 28 points, 13 boards and 21 assists, but he missed a potential game-winning buzzer-beater from three-point range as the Wizards lost to the Hawks (125-124).

Robertson, 82, was one of numerous basketball luminaries who offered congratulations to Westbrook as part of a video tribute the Wizards tweeted.

“I’m very happy for you,” Robertson said. “Your family is very proud of you, and I salute you for all your accomplishments in the game of basketball.”

The next three players on the all-time triple-double list behind Westbrook and Robertson — No. 3 Magic Johnson (138), No. 4 Jason Kidd (107), and No. 5 LeBron James (99) — all saluted Westbrook, too.

Johnson said, “You know I know how hard it is to get a triple-double, and the fact that I couldn’t even pass Oscar Robertson, so you did something I couldn’t even do, and I’m proud of you.”

Kidd added, “What a feat. Incredible. You left me a long time ago, but you are going to go down as Mr. Triple-Double.”

James said, “Love you, man. It’s an incredible feat. Someone had to do it. Why not you? Impressive, bro. Impressive.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “It speaks to your relentless work ethic and the all-around skill and passion that you bring to the game every single night.”

Westbrook, 32, tied Robertson on Saturday when he posted 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists in the Wizards’ 133-132 overtime win against the Indiana Pacers. He also made the tying and winning free throws late in overtime to cap off a special night.

Westbrook spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded to the Houston Rockets in July 2019. The Rockets traded Westbrook to Washington in exchange for John Wall and two first-round draft picks just before the 2020-21 season began.

Entering Monday, Westbrook was averaging 23.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game for his career (939 games). The nine-time All-Star and two-time NBA scoring champion was the league’s 2016-17 Most Valuable Player. That was the first of consecutive seasons in which he averaged a triple-double, and he is on pace to do so for the fourth time in his career this season.

CRITICAL WIN
Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan poured in 23 points and three of his San Antonio teammates scored at least 20 as the Spurs moved a step closer to a spot in the play-in tournament with a 146-125 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Monday in a game with major playoff implications for both teams.

San Antonio (33-35) has won two of its past three games but just twice in its past eight outings. Despite the uneven results of the past three weeks, the Spurs are a near-lock for the NBA’s play-in tournament for the teams finishing 7-10 in the conference standings at the end of the regular season.

The Spurs’ win Monday combined with New Orleans’ loss to Memphis reduced San Antonio’s magic number for clinching at least the 10th spot to just one game. — Reuters