Westbrook aims to extend streak as Rockets host Kings

NBA

The debate over the significance of triple-doubles will likely rage eternally, but for those inclined to laud the statistical accomplishment, Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook has posted three in succession.

What that means for Westbrook and the ongoing examination of his fit with the Rockets, who will host the Sacramento Kings on Monday at Toyota Center, remains undetermined. That Westbrook has recently reclaimed his identity as a stat-sheet stuffer allows for the knee-jerk reaction that his performances are improving as the season trudges along, with Westbrook averaging 20.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.7 assists during this familiar burst of productivity.

For Westbrook, there likely is some level of fatigue over the entire discussion on his fit and how he is meshing with his new cast of teammates. To his credit, he appears receptive to the notion that his acclimation is a steady process, and that perhaps he is showing signs of comfort.

“Yeah. Slowly, but surely,” Westbrook said when asked if his uptick in production is a byproduct of growing familiarity with his teammates. “Like I said before, it’s always going to be a steady dose of what I see, and how I can affect the game, and help us win games. That’s all I care about.”

Detractors, or those less enamored with triple-doubles, will note Westbrook is shooting 32 percent overall including a ghastly 13.3 percent on 3-pointers over the past three games. The crux of the argument from those unconvinced that his addition would ease the burden on James Harden was Westbrook lacking the perimeter touch to space the floor for the two-time scoring champ.

On Saturday, Harden shot 3 of 17 on 3s in the Rockets’ win over the Phoenix Suns. Harden scored 18 of his team-high 34 points in the fourth quarter to help Houston eke out the 115-109 victory, but Westbrook was as integral down the stretch, attacking the rim with impunity to lighten the load for Harden on a night when he struggled to score with relative efficiency.

“James doesn’t have to do it all,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But James is James. He’s going to be that way, play with anybody or any team or any coach. He’s James Harden. He’s that good.”

The Kings won the second game of their trip through the Texas triangle on Sunday, fending off the Dallas Mavericks 110-106 after blowing nearly all of their 24-point advantage.

The victory provided a needed boost for Sacramento, which coughed up a nine-point, fourth-quarter advantage in falling at the San Antonio Spurs in overtime last Friday. The Kings remain in search of the cohesion that was a presumed hallmark entering this season, with injuries to De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley stalling their collective development.

The Kings had dropped five of six games and have turned to others to offer some thrust, with Nemanja Bjelica filling that role against Dallas by matching his career high of 30 points to show what Sacramento can accomplish.

“We showed that also against San Antonio,” Bjelica said. “This is a different team this year, and we just need to play 48 minutes. We need to respect our opponent because everybody can play and everybody can score in this league.

“We are missing Fox, Bagley, so this team is growing. We have (a) bright future, but we’re here to win the games. We had a bad start to the season, but now we just need to play harder.”

–Field Level Media

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