Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook looked like himself again on Friday, notching his fourth triple-double of the season to lead the Thunder to a 113-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Coming off a forgettable display against Dallas on Wednesday, in which Westbrook failed to score a point before he was ejected in the second quarter, Westbrook scored 12 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter with the hosts in full control.
Westbrook posted the 23rd triple-double of his career, making six of 10 shots from the floor and turning the ball over just twice.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell said his young team could learn a lot from the ruthlessly efficient Thunder.
Karl-Anthony Towns, the league’s second-ranked rookie scorer, scored nine points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves.
Towns had connected on just two of nine shots through the first three periods, but Mitchell kept him and second-year guard Andrew Wiggins in the contest even after the Thunder had things in hand.
“I left some of my young guys out there even though the game was out of reach,” Mitchell said. “I wanted them to understand how it feels when you are getting your butt kicked. This is part of the growing pains of learning in the NBA.”
HEAT RALLY BEHIND WHITESIDE
In Denver, Hassan Whiteside posted the third triple-double of his career to help the short-handed Miami Heat rally for a 98-95 victory over the Nuggets.
Whiteside had 19 points, 17 rebounds and 11 blocks and Chris Bosh added 24 points as the Heat overcame the absence of guard Dwyane Wade, who was sidelined by shoulder soreness.
Bosh scored 10 points and Whiteside had nine points, six rebounds and four blocks in the third quarter, when the Heat erased a double-digit deficit.
NOAH HURT, BULLS LOSE
Chicago centre Joakim Noah dislocated his left shoulder in the second quarter of the Bulls 83-77 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
The French big man was hurt when he tangled with Mavericks centre JaVale McGee in the paint, immediatly departing for the locker room.
Noah, who entered the contest averaging 4.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in 28 games, was sidelined nine games earlier this season with a separated left shoulder.
Despite Noah’s departure, and that of guard Kirk Hinrich with a thigh contusion in the third quarter, the Bulls were clinging to a 61-59 lead heading into the fourth period.
But the momentum had swung the Mavericks’ way and Dallas out-scored the Bulls 24-16 in the final frame to hand the Bulls their fourth defeat in five games.
Bulls guard Jimmy Butler scored just four points a day after pouring in a career-high 53 in an overtime win against Philadelphia.
“He was tired,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He was out there trying to battle through it, but it was tough after the overtime game last night.”
If the Cleveland Cavaliers were feeling any lingering frustration from Thursday’s tough 99-95 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio, they found a way to take it out on the Houston Rockets.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving combined to score 42 points for Cleveland, who limited the Rockets to a season-low point total in a 91-77 victory in Houston.
James scored 19 points with seven rebounds and seven assists, Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love produced 11 points and 13 rebounds as the Cavs finished their six-game road trip 5-1.
“Wanted to come out and make a statement,” Irving said. “We lost a tough game last night. We don’t want to make any excuses for ourselves, we just wanted to come out here and compete.”