Westbrook Appears Ready To Go For Tonight

 Russell Westbrook (background) shoots free throws at the end of Thunder shootaround this morning while head coach Billy Donovan visits with team physician Dr. Donnie Strack at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center.

Russell Westbrook (background) shoots free throws at the end of Thunder shootaround this morning while head coach Billy Donovan visits with team physician Dr. Donnie Strack at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center.

By Randy Renner, Senior Writer

Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook did not speak with reporters after this morning's team shootaround, he and head coach Billy Donovan were checking with OKC's medical staff about Westbrook's playing status for tonight's game.

There was no official word from the Thunder after shootaround but the overwhelming feeling was that Westbrook would play.

"I think so," Paul George said when asked if Westbrook would be in the lineup tonight. "You gotta ask Russ that but yeah I think he's playing tonight. I know I would like to be out there playing with Russ tonight."

A final decision may not come until shortly before the game but Westbrook has been fully involved in the team's last three practice sessions so speculation is that he will play though perhaps not much more than 15 to 20 minutes.

The Thunder will play a much different team tonight with the Pelicans coming in with two big men DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis instead of going up against some of Houston's ultra small lineups.

"Yeah it will be (different) we played against a spread team and tonight we'll play against a two big, three out team," George said.

But New Orleans' bigs can still stretch a defense.

"This is still a unique team with the shooting skills of Anthony and DeMarcus they can still spread the defense as well as bang in the post. So it's a different look but we still gotta be prepared for a 3-point shooting team."

Both George and Carmelo Anthony believe the offense will be a bit more in sync tonight than in that first game, especially if Westbrook plays.

"I think we were all excited because it was our first game going up against another team and it took me a few minutes to kinda slow down with the excitement of playing (for a new team)," George said, "and it might be kinda that way tonight in front of our crowd, I might have a little bit of jitters."

But he says he's getting more comfortable with his new teammates and coaches and that will help too.

Donovan said yesterday he wants to see the starting unit together but will stay play some of the younger guys quite a bit.

The Thunder are still expected to be without both Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson though both are getting closer to returning to practice and then to games.

Tipoff tonight is set for 7:10 and remember OKC's Sunday game with Melbourne, Australia, is an afternoon contest with a 2:10 tipoff time.

 

Randy RennerComment