When a reporter told Westbrook that Casey was planning to send a wall of two guys at him all night, Westbrook wasn't too worried.
"They better get three," he said.
He was right. Westbrook had 26 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds to record his 16th triple-double as the Thunder dismantled the Raptors in a 119-100 win. Kevin Durant added 34 points and Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka were fantastic in their roles, but it was Westbrook -- who made Kyle Lowry look like a second-string point guard -- who once again made the Thunder go.
Westbrook doesn't need extra motivation. He continually plays perhaps too hard, but the Raptors gave him an extra reason to attack. When Westbrook is playing like he did against the Raptors, the Thunder are a threat to anyone -- even the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.
Against the Raptors, he was 10-of-16 from the field and had only three turnovers. And his intensity -- he's like the amplifiers in This Is Spinal Tap, he goes up to 11. He even goes all out on a missed free throw.
His tenacity was contagious to the rest of his team, too. Ibaka had 15 points and eight rebounds and was running the court knowing Westbrook would get him the ball. Adams was a menace down low, manhandling the Rockets defensively. And Durant had a quiet 34 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
After stumbling out of the gates following the All-Star Game, the Thunder have won eight in a row. Westbrook has them peaking at the right time. They still haven't beaten a full-strength Warriors or Spurs team, but no one is going to want to play Westbrook and Durant if they're firing on all cylinders. They're close right now.
Casey and the Raptors might have a piece of advice for the Thunder's playoff opponents: Don't make Westbrook mad.
To be fair to Casey and the Raptors, however, the coach didn't try to give Westbrook ammunition heading into the game. He was actually singing his praises. "[Westbrook] plays with a huge chip on his shoulder and that helps him be a great competitor," Casey said. "You have to meet his force with your force."
Westbrook's force, however, is too much for pretty much everyone in the league.
3 other things
The Chicago Bulls are running out chances
The Atlanta Hawks and the Bulls are on different trajectories. After the Hawks held on for a 102-100 win over the Bulls on Monday, they moved to 12-3 in the month of March. They're currently third in the East at 45-30. The loss dropped the Bulls to 36-37 -- they're 6-9 in March and 2.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth playoff spot in the East. While the Hawks are clamping down on defense -- they have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA behind the Spurs -- the Bulls are a mess on both ends of the court. Derrick Rose wasn't even the best guard on the court for Chicago. Aaron Brooks had 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 23 minutes while leading an 11-2 run that brought the Bulls back into the game in the fourth quarter. Rose, meanwhile, had 20 points on 8-of-25 shooting and was lazy defensively more than once. With only nine games remaining, the Bulls are running out of chances.
The Los Angeles Clippers offense is still capable of being one of the best in the league
The Clippers manhandled the Boston Celtics in an offensive outburst on their way to a 114-90 win. The Clippers put up 92 points through the first three quarters against a Celtics team that has the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA. Chris Paul -- who had 13 points and 14 assists in 26 minutes -- and the Clippers sliced through a dismal Celtics defense on Monday, though. The Clippers haven't been torching through the league, but do have a few things going for them. Paul and the offense appear to be ready for the playoffs, and Blake Griffin is coming back. One problem remains for the Clippers: They have to get by both the Warriors and the Spurs or the Thunder. Good luck with that, even if Griffin comes back better than ever.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are stirring up hope
Don't look now, but the Timberwolves have won three of their last four games. No, they're not even close to being in the playoff race, but there's nothing wrong with a young team closing a season out on a high note. They beat the Phoenix Suns 121-116 on Monday behind 32 points from Andrew Wiggins, and 27 points and 10 rebounds from Karl-Anthony Towns. The Timberwolves shot 50.6 percent from the field and forced 21 turnovers. They're 24 games below .500, but the future does look good. Towns is looking like a franchise cornerstone. The youngster is making plays that veterans can't match.
The Timberwolves still have a long ways to go, but a great finish to the season is emulating last year's up-and-coming team: The Utah Jazz. The Jazz closed the 2015 season with a flourish and are currently fighting for their playoff lives. It's never too early to make outlandish 2017 playoff predictions -- the Timberwolves are going to be a popular pick.
Play of the night
At 5'9, Isaiah Thomas is giving up three inches to Chris Paul. He also gave him a head start. But he still chased him down to stuff his shot into the stands.