Westbrook avoids ban after NBA rescinds tech
Marc Stein, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
The NBA has rescinded a technical foul against Russell Westbrook, meaning the league’s leading scorer will not face an automatic one-game suspension while the Thunder battle for a playoff spot.
Pelicans clinch playoff spot with any of the following:
• 1 win AND 1 Thunder loss
• 2 wins
• 2 Thunder losses
Thunder clinch playoff spot with either of the following:
• 2 wins AND 1 Pelicans loss
• 1 win AND 2 Pelicans losses
— ESPN Stats & Information
The league’s decision will allow Westbrook to play against the Trail Blazers on Monday, one day after he was called for a technical foul in Oklahoma City’s loss to the Pacers.
It was Westbrook’s 16th technical foul of the season, which would have resulted in an automatic one-game suspension.
This is Westbrook’s second technical foul in the last seven games that was rescinded by the league after the fact. A technical he received on April 5 against Houston stood as his 15th of the season, but techs at Phoenix on March 29 and again Sunday night at Indiana were later ruled incorrect by the league office.
League rules state that players receive a one-game suspension starting with their 16th technical foul of the season and every other tech thereafter, with the slate wiped clean when the playoffs begin.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Sunday that he was “confident” the league would rescind the latest technical against Westbrook, who scored a career-high 54 points in Oklahoma City’s 116-104 loss to Indiana.
The loss dropped the Thunder (43-37) into a tie with the Pelicans (43-37) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. New Orleans owns the tiebreaker, and both teams have two games remaining.
Losing Westbrook would have been critical for the Thunder, who already are without reigning MVP Kevin Durant and star defensive player Serge Ibaka because of injuries.
Westbrook, the All-Star Game MVP, is averaging 27.9 points per game this season and has carried the Thunder since Durant was ruled out for the season with a broken bone in his right foot.
He has 11 triple-doubles this season, the most by any player since 2007-08, and ranks fourth in the league in assists (8.6 per game) and second in steals (2.1). He was the Western Conference Player of the Month in February and March.
ESPN.com’s Royce Young and The Associated Press contributed to this report.