By MURRAY EVANS, Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook was more introspective than usual Wednesday night.
The 2017 MVP moved into a tie for third place on the NBA list for triple-doubles with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder completed a regular-season sweep of the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers with a 100-83 victory.
Westbrook’s triple-double was his third this season — all in the last four games — and the 107th of his career, matching Jason Kidd and trailing only Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138). Kidd took 1,247 games to reach 107, while Westbrook needed only 760.
The 19 rebounds were one off Westbrook’s career high, set in last season’s finale against Memphis. And when the star guard addressed the media long after the game ended, he spoke more from the heart than he often does.
“I am extremely blessed and humbled to be able to go out and play and compete in the NBA,” Westbrook said. “Just to be named with Jason Kidd and Magic and Oscar and those guys, I could have never dreamt about being able to even sit here talking to you guys. I take everything in and never take anything for granted.”
Jerami Grant added 21 points, one shy of his career best, on 8-of-12 shooting for the Thunder, who have won 13 of 16 after an 0-4 start.
Jordan Clarkson led Cleveland with 25 points, while Collin Sexton (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Cedi Osman (14 points, 10 rebounds) each had a double-double. The Cavaliers agreed to trade Kyle Korver to Utah after the team had arrived at Chesapeake Energy Arena, leaving them with only nine players in uniform. Eight got into the game.
Oklahoma City trailed 55-51 in the third quarter when Westbrook started a 13-0 run with a 3-pointer. He capped it by assisting on a dunk by Grant with 5:36 left in the period that completed the triple-double and put the Thunder up 64-55.
By the end of the quarter, the Thunder led 73-62 and the Cavaliers got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
“I just thought they physically wore us down,” Cleveland coach Larry Drew said. “They wore us down and our execution wasn’t as good in the second half as it was in the first. We kind of looked like we were tired in that second half. They took away our ability to move and to try to make plays.”
Cleveland took advantage of early offensive sloppiness by the Thunder to twice go up by 11 points, the latter time at 38-27 after a 3-pointer by Osman with 7:01 left in the second quarter. Oklahoma City used a 20-6 run to get back in the game, which was tied 47-all at halftime.
Drew’s job is to scheme ways to stop opposing stars like Westbrook, but that proved nearly impossible on a night when the Thunder guard was on top of his game.
“He’s an elite point guard and he does it every night, so I take my hat off to guys that do it every night,” Drew said. “He does it at a high level every night. He’s a complete player. He’s as complete as they can be and he’s relentless with his attack. He’s a phenomenal guard.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan liked how Westbrook read the game and made the correct play, time after time after time.
“Everything that he did tonight flowed out of our offense,” Donovan said. “When the floor was spaced correctly, it gave him opportunities on double-teams to make some reads. … He did an incredible job organizing and running the offense.”
Cavaliers: Asked before the game about the trade set to send Korver to the Jazz, Drew declined comment. Korver was at the arena when he learned of the deal, which still needed to be approved by the NBA. … Sam Dekker (left ankle sprain) missed his 10th straight game, and George Hill (right shoulder sprain) sat out his ninth in a row. … David Nwaba missed his second consecutive game with right knee soreness and was replaced in the starting lineup by Larry Nance Jr. … Tristan Thompson’s streak of four straight double-doubles ended. He had four points and two rebounds.
Thunder: Alex Abrines made his first start of the season but went 1 of 9 from the field. … Nerlens Noel played despite a bruised calf and scored eight points. … Paul George struggled with foul trouble most of the game but had 18 points. … The Thunder drew their 353rd straight sellout, the NBA’s third-longest active streak and tied with Sacramento for the 10th-longest in league history. … Oklahoma City won 95-86 at Cleveland on Nov. 7.
Cavaliers: Complete a two-game road swing Friday at Boston.
Thunder: Wrap up a four-game homestand Friday against Atlanta.
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