- Associated Press - Saturday, April 12, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Not much about Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook goes unnoticed.

In the past week, while much of the NBA has focused on Kevin Durant’s run at a possible first MVP award, Westbrook quietly has been the Thunder’s most productive and efficient offensive player.

Westbrook turned in another gem on Friday, finishing with 24 points and seven assists in just 28 minutes to help Oklahoma City beat the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 116-94 on Friday night.

Oklahoma City won its third straight and clinched the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Westbrook has been sitting in one game of back-to-backs, so he has played in just four of Oklahoma City’s past six games.

In those four games, he is averaging 28.5 points, 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the field.

“He’s well rested and he’s taking advantage of a lot of matchups,” Durant, who led the Thunder with 27 points against New Orleans, said.

“That’s what we need from him. He’s playing extremely well. He’s picking and choosing his spots well. He’s playing with a lot of intensity for us.”

Westbrook said moving in and out of the lineup hasn’t slowed him down.

“My job is to always stay confident, regardless of if I’m playing or if I’m missing games,” he said. “Just come out with a positive mindset and try to keep going.”

Serge Ibaka added 16 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high eight blocks for the Thunder.

“It seemed like he had 10 or 11 blocks,” Durant said. “He was protecting the paint. He was there on pick and rolls. He was there all night.”

The Thunder shot 54 from the field, made 23 of 27 free throws and committed just 11 turnovers. Oklahoma City led by 25 points at the end of the third quarter, so Durant and Westbrook rested in the fourth.

Oklahoma City outscored New Orleans 28-0 in fast-break points.

“They were able to steal a lot of buckets in transition,” New Orleans guard Austin Rivers said. “I felt like every time we made one mistake, I felt like they capitalized on it, where when we got one, we weren’t able to.”

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