POSTED: Oct 31, 2014 7:57 AM ET
Thunder vs. Clippers
Blake Griffin scores 23 points, Chris Paul adds 22 points as the Clippers edge the Thunder 93-90.
LOS ANGELES — The strangest thought was already creeping into the minds of some Thunder players Thursday night as they packed up from the visitor's locker room at Staples Center before the bus ride to the team hotel and eventually the three-hour flight back to Oklahoma City on Friday morning.
It's October, but they have to start thinking about April and maybe May and June as well, because the Thunder hope to have a May and June. They can't worry about all those months down the road, except they have to. It kind of just became inevitable.
Russell Westbrook Injury
Russell Westbrook misses on the drive, attempts to rebound the ball, and sustains an injury to his hand.
With the season just two games old, Kevin Durant wearing a walking boot on the sideline and the roster already down to about a quarter tank, Russell Westbrook fractured his right hand in a 93-90 loss to the Clippers, leaving all of Oklahoma City searching for the cruel person who got the voodoo doll and giant box of pins. There was no immediate word from the Thunder on how long Westbrook will be out, pending an evaluation planned for Friday afternoon after the return home.
We've just got to make sure we stay afloat, try to keep pushing to stay above, stay at .500 and then when they get back we just try to make a push.
– Kendrick Perkins
There was just this: Every team knows losses in the first week of the season count just as much as what happens down the stretch, but OKC is being forced to consider playoff implications -- seedings and home court in Loud City -- in October.
"Absolutely," center Kendrick Perkins said. "But you've just got to take it one game at a time. Everything else, you've just got to leave in the Lord's hands. That's what I say. We've just got to make sure we stay afloat, try to keep pushing to stay above, stay at .500 and then when they get back we just try to make a push."
The team that under ordinary circumstances would be hearing a lot about being title contenders needs to stay afloat. That's how fast this could spin out of control.
"It's unfortunate it's the way it is right now, but it's the way it is," coach Scott Brooks said. "We have to figure out how to continue to improve and get better from all of our experiences. This is going to be a tough one, but the good teams, good players, bounce back during adversity. No one goes through a career in professional sports who don't have to go through an adverse situation and our guys understand that and they're going to bounce back every day. That's what they've always done."
Best of Inside: Russell Westbrook
Shaq, Ernie, Kenny and Webber discuss the injury to Russell Westbrook and talk about his impact for the Thunder with the loss of Kevin Durant.
Oklahoma City's depth was an issue even before Westbrook left the court with 6:35 remaining in the second quarter and got into a brief argument with a fan in the stands near the tunnel to the visitor's locker room. The night before in Portland, after all, the Thunder dressed nine players, having to put Reggie Jackson (ankle), Jeremy Lamb (back) and Anthony Morrow (knee) on the active roster for paperwork purposes while also sitting Mitch McGary (foot), Grant Jerrett (ankle) and Durant (foot).
As Clippers coach Doc Rivers, watching on TV and probably not hating the idea of the getting the Thunder on the second night of a tough back-to-back and while shorthanded, would note: "They played great in the first half. They were really good. To me, it looked like they ran out of gas more than anything. If they could have continued to play the way they played at the beginning, the first half, I think it would have been an interesting game ... "
Once Westbrook hurt his hand while contesting teammate Kendrick Perkins and DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers for the rebound on a miss of his drive to the basket, the situation had gone from a test of OKC resiliency without Durant to urgent. That made eight players. One of those was Sebastian Telfair, back after spending 2013-14 in China and on his sixth team the last five NBA seasons, and another was Lance Thomas, who had never averaged more than 15 minutes a game in three previous seasons.
That's the same Telfair who just became the starting point guard until Jackson is an option and admits there is "definitely still a little bit of a transition going on" with learning the offense. "The pace may be a little bit slower than what I'm used to playing the last couple of seasons. But I'll get it." Telfair is the healthy point guard. He's only been playing with a bothersome sprained right thumb for about a month.
"I'm sure guys are swiping for it," he said.
Now, at 0-2, the Thunder get to look forward to three games in four nights, the home opener Saturday against the Nuggets and a two-game trip to Brooklyn on Monday and Toronto on Tuesday. They are hopeful some players will -- what's that strange phrase? -- get healthy soon.
First comes definitive word on Westbrook. Then comes the rest of the season. The playoffs are looming.
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