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2015 NBA scores: Russell Westbrook is still a triple-double machine, plus 3 other things we learned Friday

The Oklahoma City Thunder can catch fire in the fourth quarter, even without Durant, plus three other things we learned Friday night.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The first day of spring is supposed to bring hope, but it looked bleak for the Oklahoma City Thunder. First, it was announced that Kevin Durant's season is in jeopardy. Then, the Atlanta Hawks were scoring at will against them, putting up 95 points through three quarters Friday night. For a team with a history of fourth quarter struggles (see losses here and here), hope was minimal.

Russell Westbrook doesn't care whether it's the first day of spring or the 66th day of winter, however. He plays hard no matter what. On Friday, he led the Thunder on a heart-stopping fourth quarter run to blow by the Hawks en-route to a 123-115 win. The Thunder climbed to 39-30 with the victory, which puts them two games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans, who lost to the Golden State Warriors on Friday, for the final playoff spot in the West.

Westbrook padded his MVP resume with another triple-double. He had 36 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, and was phenomenal in the fourth quarter. So were Dion Waiters and Anthony Morrow -- both hit big shots down the stretch.

The Hawks started the game on a mission, ready to bounce back from a defeat at the hands of the Warriors two nights earlier. They scored quickly and often, jumping out to a 68-61 halftime lead. They kept pouring it on in the third, leading by as many as 12, but the Thunder stayed within striking distance.

With 8:45 to play, the Hawks led by seven. It looked like they were going to be too much down the stretch. Then the Thunder went off. Over the next five minutes, they went on a 19-2 run to take a 115-105 lead. With a little more than three minutes to play, the game was over. The Thunder hit five threes in the quarter -- Morrow made three, Westbrook two -- and outscored the Hawks, 33-20.

Westbrook had 15 points and four assists in the final frame, including key passes to Morrow for threes. Morrow had 21 points and hit 6-of-10 from behind the arc. Waiters added 26 points and Steven Adams had 12 points and 16 rebounds.

The Hawks, meanwhile, lost their second straight game. Like the Thunder, they're missing some key players -- especially Kyle Korver, who sat out with a broken nose. The Hawks couldn't hit anything in the fourth quarter, and were in dire need of better spacing, which is much easier to come by when you have a player who hits more than 50 percent of his 3-point shots.

While the Hawks have a big cushion in the East -- they're still nine games up on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot -- the Thunder don't have time to wait for players to get healthy.

Instead, they're relying on Westbrook -- and that's not a bad thing.

3 other things we learned

The Memphis Grizzlies like winning ugly. They took out the Dallas Mavericks 112-101 in a game that started out as a slow, halting affair. Heading into the game, the two teams were on different trajectories -- Memphis had lost four of seven and Dallas had won three in a row. The Grizzlies were the better team on Friday, leading by as many as 24 as they coasted to a win. The Mavericks were 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies for the second spot in the West, but the loss dropped them 4.5 games back, at 44-26, and into the seventh seed, tied with the San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies are now 48-21, 1.5 games up on the Houston Rockets for the second seed. The West's playoff picture is going to change nightly, but for now, the Grizzlies are back on track to keep their spot.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are officially going to the playoffs, but they probably don't want to face the Indiana Pacers. A 95-92 win over the Pacers clinched a playoff spot for the Cavaliers, but the Pacers put up a valiant fight, much like they often do against LeBron James' teams. The game was tied after three quarters, and down the stretch it was James against the Pacers. They traded buckets, but it was James who prevailed. He had 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Kyrie Irving had just 13 points. Irving can take over a game -- see his 57-point outburst against the Spurs -- but this is still James' team.

Elfrid Payton is one of the best rookies, but probably not rookie of the year. For the second straight game, the Orlando Magic rookie did his best Russell Westbrook impression and put up a triple-double. Payton had 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Magic surprised the Portland Trail Blazers, winning 111-104. Payton became the the first Magic player ever and the seventh rookie in NBA history to record back-to-back triple-doubles, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Talk about Payton for Rookie of the Year is intensifying, but he hasn't been as consistently good as Andrew Wiggins for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wiggins is averaging 15.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while Payton is averaging 8.5 points, 6.1 assists and four rebounds per game. This rookie class is turning out to be a good one, though. Especially with guys like Nerlens Noel and Nikola Mirotic in the discussion, as well. The Magic have to be thrilled with Payton's progress. At 22-49, it has been a long season. But with Payton and Victor Oladipo, there's at least a glimmer of hope for the future.

Play of the night

Here's a new poster: Derrick Williams destroying Bismack Biyombo. Not only did Williams do this, but the Sacramento Kings beat the Charlotte Hornets. Whether Biyombo will be allowed back on the team plane is unknown.

6 fun things and 1 not so fun thing

Public safety announcement for team mascots: DON'T MESS WITH ROBIN LOPEZ.

Kenneth Faried tried to throw himself a pass off the backboard, and failed miserably.

This baby loves the Philadelphia 76ers, and hopes they'll be okay by the time he can go to the games by himself.

Players don't even try to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo when he's close to the basket.

Just watch Blake Griffin sliding on his stomach like a penguin.

The Washington Wizards lost, but John Wall made an impossible-to-make layup.

Not fun: Marcus Smart punched Matt Bonner in the crotch.


76ers 97, Knicks 81 (Liberty Ballers recapPosting and Toasting recap)

Magic 111, Trail Blazers 104 (Orlando Pinstriped Post recapBlazer's Edge recap)

Cavaliers 95, Pacers 92 (Fear the Sword recapIndy Cornrows recap)

Heat 108, Nuggets 91 (Hot Hot Hoops recapDenver Stiffs recap)

Nets 129, Bucks 127 3OT (Nets Daily recapBrew Hoop recap)

Bulls 108, Raptors 92 (Blog a Bull recap Raptors HQ recap)

Thunder 123, Hawks 115 (Welcome to Loud City recap Peachtree Hoops recap)

Grizzlies 112, Mavericks 101 (Grizzly Bear Blues recap Mavs Money Ball recap)

Spurs 101, Celtics 89 (Pounding the Rock recapCeltics Blog recap)

Hornets 101, Kings 91 (At the Hive recapSactown Royalty recap)

Warriors 112, Pelicans 96 (Golden State of Mind recapThe Bird Writes recap)

Clippers 113, Wizards 99 (Bullets Forever recapClips Nation recap)