MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time this season, superstar will take a game off to rest Tuesday night.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan announced after Tuesday’s shootaround that Westbrook and power forward will rest against the . Small forward (sore knee) and (rest) will also not play.
It has been a historic season and road trip for Westbrook. He clinched averaging a triple-double for the season by recording his 820th assist in Friday’s loss to the , joining Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to accomplish the feat.
Westbrook broke Robertson’s record for triple-doubles in a season with a spectacular performance in Sunday’s comeback win over the , putting up 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in his 42nd triple-double of the campaign, capping the performance with a 36-foot game winner at the buzzer.
Donovan said Westbrook ultimately made the decision to rest after discussing the issue with the coaching and medical staffs. His status for Wednesday’s season finale at home against the Nuggets has yet to be determined.
“He’s been unbelievable the way he’s played, the way he’s led,” Donovan said. “Sitting down and talking to him, talking to the medical staff, this was an opportunity [to rest him], but at the end of the day it’s his decision of how he feels and trying to capitalize on maybe taking a day off, a game off, and I get that. Ultimately, he’s going to be the one who’s going to make that decision. … At the end of the day, he was the one who also really felt that, OK, this would be a good day. I think myself and our medical staff really agreed with him that this would be a good opportunity to get some rest.”
Westbrook, an MVP front-runner with career-best averages of 31.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, was not made available to the media.
The 46-34 Thunder are locked into the Western Conference’s sixth seed and a first-round playoff matchup with fellow MVP candidate and the . Donovan said Westbrook decided that being as fresh as possible for the playoffs was more important than playing all 82 games.
“I mean, he wants to play,” Donovan said. “I think he understands big picture. We have two games left. We know what we’re doing in the playoffs and who we’re playing against. I think he knows this is good for him. This is good for him physically. This is good for him to get a rest and have some time to make some decisions on tomorrow’s game with what we’re going to do with him. He’s a competitor, he wants to play, but he also knows there’s something bigger out there. I think taking this time is important.”