Oklahoma City 117, Boston 112
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, December 23, 2016
Where: TD Garden, Boston
BOSTON — Two of the best guards in the NBA put on a show Friday night at TD Garden. Russell Westbrook wound up the winner in what amounted to a personal showdown with Isaiah Thomas. Westbrook, adjusting quite well to life without Kevin Durant, registered his 14th triple-double of the season and saved his best for last.
He scored 12 of his 45 points in the final 1:36, including back-to-back 3-pointers, and had his team’s last 15 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 117-112 victory over Boston, ending the Celtics’ four-game winning streak.
“Isaiah was playing well, but I don’t need fuel from nobody, from any other player, to get me going,” said Westbrook, who also had 11 assists and 11 rebounds in his third straight 40-point game — all in 34:50 of playing time.
As far as his fourth-quarter mindset, Westbrook said, “Why not. Why not. That’s my motto. That’s what I stand by. That’s what I believe in.”
Thomas had 34 points and 10 assists in 34:17. Afterward, he was frustrated over his team dropping to 6-6 at home (11-7 on the road) but said his team “can’t hang out heads” over this loss.
As far as the guard duel, Thomas said, “I take every challenge personal. Every guard that steps in my way, it’s always personal, and I’m a competitor.”
Westbrook started slowly but scored 14 points in the second quarter to give him 16 at half. He then scored 29 of his team’s 59 points in the second half and had 20 in the fourth quarter.
Thomas scored 18 in the fourth and is averaging 31 points per game in the last five.
Asked if Thomas’ eruption opened his eyes, Westbrook said, “My eyes never close.”
“Russell’s a tough matchup for everybody, but I thought their length and athleticism was certainly a factor in a lot of ways,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens. I thought we did a lot of good things. I thought they did more good things and they won the game.”
Rookie Domantas Sabonis scored 17 of his career-high 20 points in the first half and Enes Kanter had 20 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Thunder (18-12).
Westbrook finished 13 of 25 from the floor, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
“They’re scrappy, man,” Westbrook said of the Celtics. “They’re a team that competes on both sides of the ball. They’ve definitely gotten better from last year.”
Thomas was 12 of 22 from the floor but just 2 of 8 from 3-point range. Al Horford had 23 points, Amir Johnson added 17 and Avery Bradley scored 17 for Boston (17-13).