LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook became only the second player after Wilt Chamberlain to score a ‘20-20-20' triple-double on Tuesday — and dedicated his achievement to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Westbrook posted a remarkable 20 points, 20 rebounds and 21 assists in the Thunder’s 119-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, matching Chamberlain’s feat in 1968.
But he was emotional afterwards as he paid tribute to Hussle, a fellow southern California native who was gunned down in Los Angeles on Sunday.
“That wasn’t for me,” Westbrook told broadcaster TNT after the game. “That was for my bro. That’s for Nipsey — 20 plus 20 plus 20... that’s for my bro, rest in peace Nipsey.”
Westbrook, holder of the record for most triple-doubles in a season with 42, was already closing in on a third straight season averaging a triple-double — achieving double digits in three key statistical categories.
“It’s huge, man,” he told reporters. “I can’t honestly — I’m not gonna try to put it into words, but like I said on the floor, man, that’s who it’s for, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
Westbrook grabbed his 19th rebound with 1:04 to play when Oklahoma City’s Kiwi center Steven Adams missed the second of two free throws.
Westbrook, who waved off coach Billy Donovan’s attempt to sub him out of the contest, then pulled down his 20th in the final minute to put his name alongside that of Chamberlain, who had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists in a 1968 game for the Philadelphia 76ers against Detroit.
Playoff-bound but losers of seven of their last 10, the Thunder are locked in combat for the seventh seed with the San Antonio Spurs, who beat the Atlanta Hawks 117-111 on Tuesday.
Both teams own records of 45-33, with the Spurs holding the tiebreak advantage and the eighth seed destined to take on the number one seed in the first round.
The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors went some way to ensuring that top seed will belong to them with a 116-102 victory over the second-ranked Denver Nuggets.
“We handled our business,” said Golden State star Stephen Curry, who finished with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. “We did what we were supposed to do — protect our home court.
“Obviously we understand we’re chasing that number one seed. I guess we control our own destiny now,” he added after the Warriors stretched their lead over Denver atop the West to two games with five regular-season games remaining.
The Warriors also own the tiebreaker, thanks to winning three of four against the Nuggets in the regular season.
DeMarcus Cousins paced the Warriors with a season-best 28 points.
Kevin Durant added 21 points — including two massive first-half dunks — before he was ejected in the third quarter after receiving two quick technical fouls.
Durant was incensed at the lack of a foul call on a missed three-point attempt. His 14th and 15th technical fouls of the season mean he is one away from an automatic one-game suspension.
“I thought he deserved the first technical, I didn’t think he deserved the second,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I was very surprised... but, you know, we move on.”
Elsewhere in the West, James Harden scored 36 points to lead the playoff-bound Houston Rockets to a 130-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Houston never trailed and led by as many as 30 points, matching their franchise record with 26 three-pointers.