MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Oklahoma City guard admitted he didn’t know in the closing minute of Wednesday night’s victory over the that he needed one rebound to break an NBA record that has stood for 55 years.
Then several of the more vocal members of the crowd of 17,298 at FedExForum shouted reminders. They wanted to see history as much as Westbrook wanted to make it.
Despite having an opportunity in the final seconds, Westbrook finished a rebound shy of setting the NBA mark for most triple-doubles in a season. Still, his 45 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds paced the Thunder in a 103-100 victory over the Grizzlies.
Westbrook had his streak of seven consecutive triple-doubles snapped a night after he tied ‘s record of 41 triple-doubles. He got his hand on what would have been his 10th rebound, but Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison secured it and made a 3-pointer.
“It would have been nice if he could have grabbed the ball,” Thunder coach said. “It bounced off his hands. I think that’s happened a lot this year where he has been close to (a triple-double).”
Westbrook, as he has done repeatedly during the season, attempted to downplay his shot at history, but he laughed when discussing how involved the fans were at the end.
“Obviously, a lot of people come to see that (pursuit of the record),” Westbrook said. “But we’ve got a lot of games left and winning (is) the most important thing.
“At the end, I wanted to grab that rebound, close the game and shoot some free throws. The crowd was into it. I heard them.”
Teammate Doug McDermott, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench, said he wasn’t aware Westbrook was a rebound away late in the game.
“There were a couple (rebounds) that I grabbed that I should have let him get, but it’s all good,” McDermott said. “I’m sure there’s a good chance he’ll get it sometime this road trip.”
Donovan said the attention the media is devoting to the record surpasses the attention it is getting in the locker room.
“No one really talks about that stuff … but you guys want to talk about it because it’s a story,” Donovan said. “But we are just wanting to do what we need to play well.”
Westbrook needs six assists in the remaining four games to average a triple-double for the season. That would be a remarkable feat, Grizzlies veteran said.
“I remember I played in the playoffs with (Jason) Kidd and he averaged a triple-double in the playoffs,” Carter said. “We’re talking about six or seven games. (Westbrook is) doing it over the course of a whole season. That’s pretty impressive.”
The Grizzlies (42-37) lost their third straight to fall 3 1/2 games behind the sixth-place Thunder (45-33) in the Western Conference. Memphis, which has its seventh straight playoff trip secured, is in seventh place with three games left.
led the Grizzlies with 23 points, and added 20 points and nine rebounds.
For Oklahoma City, Victor Oladipo added 15 points and Steven Adams grabbed 10 rebounds.
The game was tied at 95 with 1:47 to go following two free throws by Carter, but Westbrook drilled a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left for a 101-97 lead.
Memphis played without starting point guard , who sat out with an eye injury he sustained Tuesday night.
“I thought our two young point guards (Wade Baldwin and Harrison) played a solid basketball game without Mike on the floor against, obviously, an incredible basketball player,” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said. “When he’s hitting threes like that, I don’t know what you do.”
Westbrook made 8 of 13 3-point attempts and scored 29 points in the second half, including 11 of the Thunder’s final 14 points.
“He’s definitely MVP worthy,” Grizzlies guard said. “He was the aggressor down the stretch.”
Through three quarters, Westbrook had 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds and the Thunder owned a 79-74 advantage. Westbrook scored 15 points in the third quarter and his 3-pointer, followed by another from McDermott, gave Oklahoma City a 10-point lead (67-57), its largest to that point.
Memphis put together a 10-0 run that bridged the end of the third and the start of the fourth, to go up 82-79. Randolph’s 3-pointer capped the run and created a back-and-forth final eight minutes that included multiple lead changes. After only six lead changes through the first three quarters, there were eight in the fourth.
NOTES: G/F Alex Abrines did not play for the Thunder because of a left knee injury. Abrines scored 12 points Tuesday in a win over the . … Grizzlies C Marc Gasol made three 3-pointers to increase his season total to 100. Entering this season, Gasol had made only 12 from beyond the arc in his first eight seasons. … Oklahoma City clinched at least the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.