1141 GMT July 18, 2019
Westbrook almost didn’t get to play. He picked up his 16th technical at Indiana on Sunday. The automatic one-game suspension that usually accompanies that number would have kept him out of what turned out to be a must-win game. But the foul was rescinded Monday morning, AP wrote.
“I was worried once I got it during the game, but at the same time, the NBA does a great job of figuring out which tech is doable and which ones get rescinded, and I’m just happy mine got rescinded,” Westbrook said.
Enes Kanter added 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Thunder, which would have been eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race with a loss. Now, the Thunder needs a win at Minnesota and a loss by New Orleans at home against San Antonio today to advance. Any other scenario and New Orleans secures the No. 8 seed.
“We put ourselves in this position,” Westbrook said. “But at the same time, we’ve just got to go out and take care of our business and see what happens.”
Meyers Leonard scored a career-high 24 points for Portland. The Trail Blazers, which already was locked into the No. 4 spot in the West, was without injured starters LaMarcus Aldridge (left foot sprain) and Arron Afflalo (right shoulder strain).
Portland coach Terry Stotts said Aldridge, who missed his second straight game, might play in the regular-season finale at Dallas.
“I think it is important that if L.A. can play, that he can play, and he has been out for a little bit,” Stotts said. “I think that is important to kind of keep the edge, but how much? That is to be seen."
Westbrook followed up his career-high 54-point effort Sunday by making 13 of 27 shots to extend his lead over Houston’s James Harden in the race for the scoring title. He scored 17 points in the first half, and Oklahoma City led 49-42 at the break. The Thunder shot just 35 percent in the first half, but it had 13 offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points.
Damian Lillard’s 28-foot 3-pointer cut Oklahoma City’s lead to five with about seven minutes left in the third quarter before the Thunder went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a 3-point play by Dion Waiters, to go up 66-54. Westbrook scored 13 points in the third quarter, and Oklahoma City led 81-70 heading into the fourth.
Portland cut Oklahoma City’s lead to six midway through the fourth, but Anthony Morrow quickly drained a 3-pointer, and the Thunder maintained control from there.