PORTLAND, Ore. — This year's Rookie of the Year is liable to have nightmares about Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Make that the Northwest Division champion Oklahoma City Thunder — three times over, to be exact.
Westbrook scored a game-high 33 points to lead the Thunder to a thorough 106-90 dismantling of a depleted Portland team playing out the string of what's been a trying ending to its season.
Meanwhile, the Thunder won for the ninth time in 11 games and moved one victory shy of securing its first 60-win season in the franchise's Oklahoma City era.
With the Denver Nuggets losing in overtime down in Dallas, the Thunder had already wrapped up its third consecutive division title long before the final buzzer. But the win ensured the Thunder didn't back its way into this year's division crown and, with San Antonio winning at home against Sacramento, also kept OKC a half-game ahead of the Spurs in the race for first place in the Western Conference standings.
“You have to take pride in it, there's no question. One of your goals every year is to win your division, and we've done it three straight years,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “I give our guys all the credit. They've worked hard.”
Westbrook said winning the division is not something the Thunder takes for granted.
“It's great, man,” he said. “That's not a given. It's a lot of guys that came back better and put in a lot of work to put ourselves in a position to win it again so it's great.”
After losing its seventh straight home game, a franchise record, Portland fell to 33-46. The Blazers were without customary starters Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum due to injuries and didn't have nearly enough weapons to keep pace with the high-powered Thunder.