By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com
Russell Westbrook‘s season and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s championship hopes are once again on indefinite hold, hinging on the prognosis of yet another setback to the point guard’s troublesome right knee.
During the third quarter of Friday’s game at Toronto, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry inadvertently knocked knees with Westbrook as he came out to guard him at the 3-point arc. Westbrook immediately winced in pain and slapped his palm on the floor. The team’s television broadcast termed it a sprain. Westbrook did not return. More will be known on the severity of the injury Saturday.
His immediate reaction was eerily similar to the initial injury during last season’s playoffs when Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley lunged into Westbrook’s knee as he pulled up to call a timeout near the Thunder’s bench.
That injury tore the meniscus in Westbrook’s right knee, ending his season and sending him to the operating table. He underwent a second surgery prior to training camp, and swelling in the knee forced a third procedure two days after he recorded a triple-double at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day.
Westbrook, who had not missed a regular-season game in his NBA career until this season, was playing in his 11th game back since the third operation. He’s played in 37 of the team’s 69 games, averaging 21.4 ppg, 7.2 apg and 5.8 rpg.
The Thunder return to Oklahoma City Friday night and don’t play again until Monday against Denver.
Russell Westbrook was in great spirits after the game. Left the arena walking just fine. No brace. No crutches. Doesn’t expect to miss time.