Posted Mar 22, 2014 6:54 PM
The Oklahoma City Thunder may have caught a break Friday night.
An MRI and exam of Russell Westbrook's right knee Saturday found "no issues of concern" with his knee, according to the team, after he left Friday's game in Toronto with what was called a right knee sprain. Westbrook collided with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in the third quarter of OKC's double-overtime victory over Toronto and did not return, having to be helped off the court.
Westbrook will continue to be on a minutes restriction in the games in which he plays, and will almost certainly not play in back-to-back games in the remaining three weeks of the regular season. The Thunder next play Monday against Denver at home before traveling to Dallas for a Tuesday night game against the Mavericks on TNT.
A league source said Saturday that Westbrook "should be okay" after bumping knees with Lowry. According to the Oklahoman newspaper Friday, Westbrook left the Air Canada Centre Friday night without crutches or a brace, and said he didn't expect to miss any playing time.
The decision of which of the back to back games Westbrook plays will continue to be a collaborative one between the player, OKC's medical staff and team officials. That has been the plan since Westbrook returned to action late last month following his return from a third knee operation on the knee in less than a year.
Westbrook tore meniscus cartilage in the knee during the Thunder's playoff series with the Rockets last April, after Houston guard Patrick Beverley ran into him and their knees collided. The team and Westbrook opted to repair rather than shave the meniscus for long-term benefit, which would reduce the chance that Westbrook develop arthritic issues in the knee later in his career. He underwent surgery April 30 with the hope that he'd be ready to play on opening night this season.
But Westbrook had to undergo a second operation at the start of training camp last October MRI after his knee continued to swell, though he had no pain in the knee. An examination determined a loose stitch was causing the swelling, and he was expected to miss up to the first six weeks of the regular season.
Westbrook returned much sooner than expected, however, coming back to action Nov. 3.
But just after Christmas—after again experiencing swelling in the knee—Westbrook underwent a third operation on the right knee. This came after doctors discovered, according to a statement from general manager Sam Presti, "an area of concern that had not previously existed, nor was detectable in the previous procedures," leading to the recommendation for additional surgery.
Westbrook returned to the lineup Feb. 20. He has averaged 21.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 36 games this season.
At 51-18, Oklahoma City is a game and a half behind San Antonio for the best record in the NBA.
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