National Basketball Association
Oklahoma City 106, Denver 105
When: 5:00 PM ET, Sunday, April 9, 2017
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
#77 Karl Lane, #41 Ken Mauer, #63 Derek Richardson
DENVER -- Russell Westbrook chased history all season, and with another incredible performance, the Oklahoma City Thunder guard set himself apart from the rest of the NBA.
Westbrook capped his record-setting 42nd triple-double with a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Thunder rallied to beat the Denver Nuggets 106-105 on Sunday.
Westbrook ended his historic day with a 36-foot dagger to finish with 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists to pass Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson for most triple-doubles in an NBA season.
"Blessed, very blessed," Westbrook said after his third 50-point triple-double this season.
He scored the Thunder's last 15 points to eliminate the Nuggets from playoff contention with a contested shot that set off a team celebration.
"It's something you dream about as a little kid to be able to do that on the road, especially from that distance," Westbrook said.
He also strengthened the argument that he should be the league MVP.
"Tonight was a pretty good (case)," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "I really, really believe that he is because of what he's done between the lines, because of what he's done from a leadership role."
Danilo Gallinari had a season-high 34 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds and Nikola Jokic scored 23 points for Denver.
The Nuggets led by eight with 2:27 left but couldn't hold on.
Coach Michael Malone addressed the somber locker room after the loss that extended Denver's postseason drought to four years.
"Not a lot to tell; the emotions are really high," Jokic, who was hit with a costly flagrant foul and technical that helped the Thunder rally, said about Malone's postgame speech. "We have two more games to end the season and let's try to win the next ones."
The Nuggets (38-42) needed to win their last three games and hope the Portland Trail Blazers dropped their last two, but Denver suffered a second heartbreaking loss to the Thunder this season.
Oklahoma City rallied from nine down late to beat Denver in overtime on Nov. 25. That one hurt, but this one was fatal to the Nuggets' season.
"Down the stretch, we had a lack of poise, lack of execution," Malone said. "Everything that could go wrong went wrong."
The Pepsi Center fans came out in anticipation of history and weren't disappointed, although it took longer than expected.
Westbrook got his ninth assist late in the third quarter and was taken out with 2:02 left in the quarter to the crowd's disappointment.
"I've been feeling it for a while. Everywhere I've been the crowd's been like that," Westbrook said. "It's been amazing. It's something I could never dream about growing up in inner-city Los Angeles."
When Westbrook stood up to check in with 9:01 left, the fans started cheering. Each time he brought the ball up the court anticipation grew. After three close misses off his passes, he found rookie Semaj Christon in the corner for a 3-pointer with 4:17 left.
"I was open so I shot it," Christon said. "He always tells you if you're open shoot the ball and I was open."
The fans erupted in cheers and Westbrook raised a hand when the public address announcer acknowledged the feat.
Donovan said he didn't consider taking Westbrook out after the milestone assist even though the Thunder were down by 10.
"His performance down the stretch was incredible," Donovan said.
Westbrook had 23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists at halftime and was hearing chants of "MVP! MVP!" whenever he shot free throws.
Gallinari scored 22 points in the third quarter to give Denver a 14-point and the Nuggets were up by 10 entering the fourth, but the Thunder (46-34) rallied to get within two on Westbrook's layup with 27.1 seconds left.
After Jokic missed, Westbrook grabbed the rebound and the Thunder called timeout with 2.9 seconds left. Kyle Singer inbounded to Steven Adams, who handed off to Westbrook for the winning shot.
"I practice that shot every day pregame, so I shoot from the same spot," he said. "Definitely felt confident."
The win came two days after Westbrook missed a chance to get No. 42 in a loss at Phoenix. Westbrook stayed after the game to shoot, getting in extra work that Donovan says is common.
"It's a great point to why he's a great player," Donovan said. "Not only his physical ability and talent, but people unfortunately, young players, don't get a chance to see the commitment level that he makes. He's not someone who's going to broadcast it."
Westbrook thanked his teammates in the locker room. He said he was giving the game ball and everything else from the day to his parents.
He can now focus on the playoffs and impending fatherhood. His wife, Nina, is expecting their first child, a son, next month.
"It's a blessing," he said. "I'm praying for my wife. I know she's home watching and can't wait to bring him into the world."
NOTES: Wilson Chandler had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Denver. ... Thunder F Doug McDermott was a late scratch with left knee soreness. ... Nuggets F Kenneth Faried has now missed 13 games this season with lower back issues. He missed nine games in February and March and three in January. ... Thunder F Andre Roberson was back after resting his left knee Friday. G Alex Abrines missed his third straight game with a left knee sprain.
Top Game Performances
Russell Westbrook 50
Danilo Gallinari 34
Russell Westbrook 10
Gary Harris 5
Russell Westbrook 16
Wilson Chandler 10
Russell Westbrook 11
||Free Throws Made
Danilo Gallinari 6
Kyle Singler 3
Danilo Gallinari 2
Jerami Grant 1
Mason Plumlee 2
Team Stats Summary
Denver will play their next game on the road against Dallas. The Nuggets have a W/L % of .385 after a win and .561 after a loss.
Oklahoma City will play their next game on the road against Minnesota. The Thunder have a W/L % of .609 after a win and .529 after a loss.