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2015 NBA scores: Russell Westbrook won't let Thunder die, Stephen Curry drops 51

Westbrook put forth a masterful 45-point performance in a crucial win over the Pelicans. Later in the night, Stephen Curry one-upped Westbrook by pouring in 51 points in a comeback victory over the Mavericks.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder looked dead in the water following a two-game losing streak last week that featured an embarrassing loss to the Knicks and an ugly defeat against the Grizzlies. With Kevin Durant hurting again, the talk of Oklahoma City missing the playoffs was only getting louder and louder.

Russell Westbrook has made it a point to shut that noise up, at least for the time being. After recording a triple-double in a win over the Orlando Magic on Monday, Westbrook poured in 45 points in a crucial 102-91 victory on the front end of a home-and-home against the Pelicans in New Orleans. The 45 points matched a career high.

The Thunder entered play Wednesday two games behind the Pelicans in the Western Conference standings, with both teams chasing the Suns for the final spot in the playoff picture. With Durant still out with a toe injury, New Orleans had a prime opportunity at home to create more breathing room from Oklahoma City and gain ground on Phoenix.

But Westbrook quickly let the Pelicans know that the Thunder weren't going down without a fight. The electric point guard put on a show in the first quarter, scoring 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting:


That's a lot of green, which is a lot of good. Half of his shots in the first quarter came at the rim and 70 percent were in the paint. When Westbrook is aggressive and not settling for bad shots, he's nearly impossible to stop.

Westbrook had 25 points by halftime, but the Pelicans took a 57-51 lead into the half thanks to a big second quarter that featured some strong work from the bench. Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans went just 2-of-13 in the frame, but Quincy Pondexter, Ryan Anderson and Alexis Ajinca combined for 15 points.

However, Westbrook poured in 11 more points in the third quarter, and he finally got some help from Serge Ibaka. Ibaka had 11 points himself in the third quarter, and he also added two blocks as the Thunder locked down on defense.

Oklahoma City led by one point going into the final frame, and sure enough, it was Westbrook taking them home to victory. The point guard scored nine points in the fourth quarter to bring his point total to 45. There was also a side helping of Anthony Morrow, who scored eight of his 14 points off the bench in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook finished with an efficient 18-of-31 shooting night, with 19 of those 31 shots coming in the paint. He also went 7-of-9 from the line and added six rebounds and six assists. This was an MVP-level performance when the Thunder needed him most, and they'll need another big effort from him on Friday, especially if Durant is out again.

More bouquets have to be tossed in Ibaka's direction as well, as he was a terror defending the rim in his 42 minutes. The big man recorded six blocks on the night, and he helped hold the Pelicans to just 40 percent shooting at the rim, according to Davis had 23 points and eight rebounds, but he "only" shot 9-of-21, while Evans and Eric Gordon combined to shoot 8-of-32. New Orleans shot 38.9 percent for the game.

Perhaps this is the type of win that catapults the Thunder forward. We've been waiting and waiting for that charge, but it hasn't come yet. Another victory over the Pelicans on Friday in Oklahoma City would be a major statement to the league that the Thunder are back.

3 other things we learned

Stephen Curry nearly went full Klay Thompson: In stunning fashion, the Mavericks went into Oracle Arena and ran out to a 24-4 lead over the Warriors. With just over a minute left in the opening quarter, the score was 40-18. Golden State outscored Dallas 110-74 the rest of the game, and Curry led the comeback in the 128-114 victory. The MVP candidate one-upped Westbrook with 51 points on 16-of-26 shooting overall and 10-of-16 from three, and Curry tried to duplicate what his Splash Brother did earlier in the year. It wasn't quite 37 points in a quarter, but Curry scored 26 points in the third quarter on 8-of-11 shooting overall and 6-of-7 from three. This was Steve Kerr's reaction:

The 26 points in the quarter were the most ever in a quarter for Curry, and it was the second most in a quarter this season behind Thompson's 37.

The Hawks can deal with adversity: The Hawks didn't lose a single game in January, but they lost their first game in February in New Orleans. A tough game followed against the Wizards, but Atlanta got back to its winning ways with an impressive 105-96 victory. The Hawks jumped out to a 13-point halftime lead, and although Washington took the lead in the third quarter, Atlanta didn't panic. The Hawks came out strong at the start of the fourth quarter and put the game away. Jeff Teague had 26 points and eight assists in a fun point-guard battle against John Wall, who had 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Al Horford added a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds on the night where Atlanta's starting lineup was named the Eastern Conference "Player" of the Month for January.

Hassan Whiteside continues to show he's the real deal: The Heat are hurt and bad, but Whiteside has been one of the best stories of the season. The D-League reclamation project continues to be a revelation for Miami, and he took his game to new heights with a 24-point, 20-rebound performance against the Timberwolves. This was the first 20-20 game of his career, and the second time this season he has nabbed 20 rebounds. He shot 12-of-13 from the field and also added three steals and two blocks. The bummer was this magnificent performance came in a brutal 102-101 loss, and the big man was part of an unfortunate sequence in the final minute that helped lead to the defeat.

Play of the Night

When you think of big-time dunkers, Mike Scott usually doesn't come to mind. Bradley Beal was probably thinking that when he went up to challenge Scott's drive to the hoop in transition, but things didn't turn out too well for the young shooting guard.

6 fun things

Thaddeus Young went all WWE on Hassan Whiteside.

It's so great to have Ricky Rubio back in our lives.

James Harden shook Jimmy Butler real bad.

Joey Dorsey tried to dunk very hard. He failed miserably.

O.J. Mayo helped save the Bucks from a rough loss to the Lakers.

Tyson Chandler yammed on Andrew Bogut's head.

Final scores

Pacers 114, Pistons 109 (Indy Cornrows recapDetroit Bad Boys recap)
Hawks 105, Wizards 96 (Peachtree Hoops recapBullets Forever recap)
Celtics 104, Nuggets 100 (CelticsBlog recapDenver Stiffs recap)
Nets 109, Raptors 93 (NetsDaily recapRaptors HQ recap)
Thunder 102, Pelicans 91 (Welcome to Loud City recapThe Bird Writes recap)
Rockets 101, Bulls 90 (The Dream Shake recapBlog a Bull recap)
Timberwolves 102, Heat 101 (Canis Hoopus recapHot Hot Hoops recap)
Bucks 113, Lakers 105 (OT) (Brew Hoop recapSilver Screen and Roll recap)
Spurs 110, Magic 103 (Pounding The Rock recapOrlando Pinstriped Post recap)
Grizzlies 100, Jazz 90 (Grizzly Bear Blues recap | SLC Dunk recap)
Warriors 128, Mavericks 114 (Golden State Of Mind recap | Mavs Moneyball recap)