<
>

Butler vs. Westbrook will be a matchup of two of the NBA's best

Monday night's matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls will feature two of the NBA's premier stars. Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports

When Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder (22-16) visit Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls (19-18) on Monday night, it'll be a matchup of two of the hottest stars in the NBA.

Butler and Westbrook enter this game as the top two scorers in the NBA since the calendar turned to 2017.

While Westbrook is having a historic season, notching his 17th triple-double of the season in a win against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, Butler is also playing historically efficient basketball in the fourth quarter and overtime for the Bulls.

In the Bulls' past four wins, Butler has scored at least 10 points in the fourth quarter and has notched 40 points three times, including a 52-point performance against the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 2.

In three games in January, Butler has a player efficiency rating of 75 in the fourth quarter and overtime. He's been carrying the Bulls late in games, but thanks to his recent surge, the 27-year-old now has a player efficiency rating in the fourth quarter and overtime that is the best by any Bulls player over the past 20 years.

For Westbrook, Monday's matchup will be unfamiliar territory. In 15 games against the Bulls, the 28-year-old has never recorded a triple-double. The Bulls are one of just six teams to keep Westbrook under that elite stat line.

This will be the first matchup between Butler and Westbrook since last season's Christmas Day game. In the Bulls' 105-96 win, Butler led Chicago with 23 points. Westbrook had 26 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, six steals and six turnovers in the loss.

-- Isaac Chipps