April 14, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Russell Westbrook can do just about anything when it comes to basketball.

Oklahoma City's electric point guard can get more triple-doubles than anyone else - his 11 lead the league and are the most by any player since the 2007-08 season. He can lead the league in scoring and take a team to the brink of the playoffs, even with teammate and reigning MVP Kevin Durant missing most of the season with a broken bone in his right foot.

He won't, however, cheer for a rival team, even if its success would benefit his squad. On Wednesday night, Oklahoma City will need a win at Minnesota, plus a victory by the San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans, to get into the postseason. When asked after Monday's win over Portland if he'd become a Spurs fan for a day, Westbrook pondered the question before offering a vintage response.

''I ain't got to root for nobody,'' he said. ''I ain't no Spurs fan.''

It's easy to see why Westbrook might not be willing to depend on anyone else - he's done plenty by himself. Since Durant last played on Feb. 19, Westbrook has averaged 31.1 points, 10.0 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game, with nine triple-doubles in 26 games. His overall season average of 28 points per game makes him the likely scoring champion - he leads Houston's James Harden by half a point per game with one game to go. He also ranks fourth in the league in assists and second in steals.

Still, Westbrook's teammates don't share his logic when it comes to Wednesday's game in New Orleans.

''Russ said he's not going to be a fan,'' Thunder guard Dion Waiters said. ''I'm going to be a fan of the Spurs on Wednesday. I've never been to the playoffs. I `m hoping that they go in there and they play and they get a win, and we go and handle our business.''

But Westbrook refuses to worry about things he doesn't control.

''We only can play one game,'' Westbrook said. ''We just go out and play our game, and that's it.''

It's a strange position for the Thunder. Oklahoma City has reached the playoffs five years in a row, with three Western Conference Finals appearances and a trip to the NBA Finals.

The Spurs have been among Oklahoma City's toughest opponents over the years. The Thunder beat San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals in 2012, and the Spurs beat the Thunder at the same point last year.

The Thunder might be considered lucky to even be in this position. Durant has just played 27 games. Top defensive player Serge Ibaka has been out for a month since having knee surgery. Westbrook missed about a month early in the season. Center Steven Adams, forwards Nick Collison and Mitch McGary and guards Anthony Morrow and Andre Roberson have also missed significant time with injuries.

The Thunder also made a major deal at the trade deadline that sent scoring point guard Reggie Jackson to Detroit and brought center Enes Kanter from Utah. Kanter has adjusted quickly, averaging 18.4 points and 10.9 rebounds since the trade. Despite all the changes, the Thunder enter their final regular-season game with a 44-37 record.

''It's definitely a blessing with injuries and things of that nature,'' Westbrook said. ''But now, we're here, and we've just got to take advantage.''

Thunder coach Scott Brooks doesn't expect an easy game in Minnesota. Though the Timberwolves will enter the game with the league's worst record, Andrew Wiggins is emerging as a star, and beating the Thunder would be a feather in their caps.

''We have a tough matchup,'' Brooks said. ''Every team in this league, if you don't take them seriously, can beat you.''

Minnesota lost to New Orleans on Monday, setting up Wednesday's situation. Now, the Thunder will need the Spurs to simply do what they've done for decades - win important games. The Spurs, after all, are the defending NBA champions, and they still are fighting for the No. 2 seed in the West.

''We're just going to focus on playing good basketball and take care of our business,'' Brooks said. ''Hopefully, we get some help down south of us.''


Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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