Westbrook Has Surgery To Repair Broken Cheek Bone

By Randy Renner

The hits just keep coming in the Thunder's most challenging season since moving to Oklahoma City.

Russell Westbrook was accidentally kneed in the face late in last night's loss to Portland by teammate Andre Robertson and this morning in Los Angeles Russ underwent surgery to repair the damage.

Here is the statement released this afternoon by the team:

"Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook underwent a successful procedure today to address a fracture to the zygomatic arch of his right cheek, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

The procedure was performed by Dr. John Joseph Rehm and Dr. Jason Hamilton with Thunder medical personnel present at the Osborne Head and Neck Institute in Los Angeles, Calif. Westbrook will miss tomorrow’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers and will be re-evaluated later this week.

In 45 games this season (all starts), Westbrook is averaging 26.5 points, 8.1 assists and 6.8 rebounds in 33.0 minutes per game. Westbrook has recorded three straight triple-doubles and after last night’s performance in Portland, his 31.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists for the month of February made him the first player since Oscar Robertson to achieve those marks over the course of a month."

Even though the Thunder release just mentions tomorrow's game with the Lakers, he may also miss Wednesday's home game with Philadelphia and Thursday's road game at Chicago. The Thunder then begin a four game home stand a week from Sunday when Toronto comes to town.

Westbrook will likely be re-evaluated before the 76ers game and fitted with a mask so it's possible he could return to the lineup fairly soon. Those decisions will be made in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, Enes Kanter and Steven Adams are also expected to miss the Lakers game.

Thunder Lose Heartbreaker In The Desert, Portland Next

By Randy Renner

Back-to-backs are never easy in the NBA and as things have turned out the Thunder now face a particularly difficult one.

They battled back from behind all night long late last night in Phoenix only lose 117-113 in overtime and now must play the Northwest Division leading Portland Trail Blazers less than 24 hours later.

To make matters worse, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook tweaked an ankle on the final possession of the game last night but told The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry that would be able to play tonight against the Blazers.

The Thunder are hoping to have enough energy to go the distance against Portland but the up-and-down game in Phoenix last night will make that difficult at best.

Westbrook had another triple-double, his second straight and third this month, with 39 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Those numbers are eye-popping but even Russ admitted after the game, "Honestly I think I was actually shooting too much." He put up 38 shots, 25 more than any other Thunder player, and hit just 12.

"I think I got to do a better job of trusting my teammates more," Westbrook said. "I'm not saying I don't, but consistently trusting them regardless of what is going on, regardless of the time, score and possession. Just find a way to trust them and let them make some plays as well."

About as candid a comment as you will ever hear from Russ and as good, great as he's been that has traditionally be his main fault. Trying to do too much by himself, especially when his fellow superstar Kevin Durant has been sidelined as he is now.

But Westbrook has been playing at such an incredibly high level lately he can be forgiven for trying to do it all, because more often than not he has. He's on pace to become just the second player in NBA history to go through an entire month while maintaining averages of at least 30 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. He would join Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson on that very short list.

The problem for the Thunder last night wasn't really Russ taking too many shots, the problem was Phoenix making too many.

The Suns shot 49.5 percent last night. The Thunder came into the game with the NBA's best defense since January 26th, holding opponents to just 40.9 percent shooting. Enes Kanter, who has been outstanding on offense so far and had 18 points last night, was abused in pick-and-roll situations by Eric Bledsoe who scored 28 points for Phoenix.

The Thunder flew up to Portland right after the game and will not have a shootaround today in order to try and be as fresh as possible for tonight's tipoff.

The Trail Blazers are coming off an impressive win against San Antonio on  Wednesday but star forward LaMarcus Aldridge continued his recent struggles. He scored just 11 points  on 5-for-19 shooting. Aldridge is playing with a sprained thumb and over his last three games he's averaged 14.3 points on 29.1 percent shooting.

Facing Oklahoma City at home may help Aldridge get back on track, however, as he has averaged 26.6 points on 50.3 percent shooting in his last eight matchups in Portland.

The Trail Blazers had dropped nine of 11 in the series prior to winning the first two this season, beginning with a 106-89 home win in both teams' openers on Oct. 29. They also won 115-111 in overtime at Oklahoma City on December 23rd with Damian Lillard and Westbrook each scoring 40.

Tonight's game should tipoff at about 9:40, it's the second game of a national TV double-header on ESPN. You can also see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

 

 

 

Thunder, Suns Heading In Opposite Directions

By Randy Renner

Just a couple of weeks ago the Thunder were still chasing the Suns trying to get into the playoff picture, now even with the latest Kevin Durant surgery, the Thunder have passed up the Suns and are now solidly in eighth place in the Western Conference.

OKC comes into tonight's game red-hot having won seven straight and nine of their last 10, the Suns playoff chances may be setting, having lost eight of their last 10 and fallen behind New Orleans down into 10th place.

The Thunder are actually now just two games behind the Spurs for seventh and if you want to really get optimistic, Oklahoma City could move to within five games of Portland with a win tonight in Phoenix and if they can follow that up with a win tomorrow night in Portland they'd be just four games behind the Blazers for the Northwest Division lead and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Their 9-1 run through February so far includes double-digit wins over the Clippers, Memphis, and Dallas, all teams they trail in the standings.

Oklahoma City is averaging 111.7 points over its last 10 games, and though Durant has missed half of them, each was a victory. It's unclear when he will return as he deals with foot soreness and is supposed to be re-evaluated sometime here at the end of the week.

All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook is playing the best basketball of his career right now. He had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 105-92 win over Indiana on Tuesday for his third triple-double this season. His 11 triple-doubles since entering the league in 2008-09 rank third while his three this season are tied with Michael Carter-Williams and Rajon Rondo for the NBA lead.

The All-Star Game MVP is averaging 29.5 points on 38.9 percent 3-point shooting with 10.1 assists and 8.2 rebounds over his last 10 games - up from 24.8 on 25.9, 7.4 and 5.9 previously.

Westbrook, whose 7.5 fast-break points per game lead the NBA, has averaged 9.4 in the last 10, helping Oklahoma City average 22.5 as a team, a 7.9 increase from its previous average.

"He just continues to stack games up on top of one another," coach Scott Brooks said after Tuesday's win over Indiana.  "He's played well. He's doing a great job of leading us, leading the new guys and leading the group. Making it all come together."

The Suns snapped a five-game losing streak last night with a 110-96 win at Denver, though it was against a Nuggets squad that had dropped 16 of 18. The Suns had allowed 111-plus points in four straight before limiting undermanned Denver to 38.3 percent shooting.

Brandon Knight's 19 points led six players in double figures.

"It's all new and all coming so quickly," said Knight, who has averaged 17.3 points in three games for the Suns since being acquired from Milwaukee. "It will take time. But it's really just about making basketball plays."

The Suns have been one of the league's worst rebounding teams with a average minus-2.1 margin but are plus-33 over their last two games and recorded a league season-high 65 boards Wednesday. Alex Len has 10-plus rebounds in four straight after averaging 6.0 previously.

The Thunder are the NBA's best rebounding team (47.4 per game) and they're second in offensive rebounds per game (12.3).

Oklahoma City has won 13 of 15 in the series, including two home meetings this season. Westbrook has averaged 32.3 points on 54.0 percent shooting in his last four trips to Phoenix, but was 5 of 13 for 20 points in a 137-134 overtime home win on Dec. 31 as Durant scored 44. Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix that night with 29.

Tipoff is scheduled for 9:30 but because it's the second game of TNT's national TV double-header the tip could be as late as 9:45.

The Thunder will fly to Portland after the game for Friday night's showdown with the Blazers, that game is also part of a national TV double-header on ESPN.

 

 

Russ Has Another Triple-Double As Thunder Rolls Again

By Randy Renner

The Thunder faced perhaps their stiffest test of these recent hot streak, going up against an almost healthy Indiana Pacers squad that had won six of their last seven games, on Tuesday night. 

Stiff test or not the Thunder stampeded the Pacers from the jump, stumbled in the third quarter and then took control again in the fourth to cruise to a 105-92 win that wasn't really that close. 

Russell Westbrook registered his third triple-double of the season with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.  

"I'm just blessed and happy to play the game I love," Westbrook told reporters afte the game. "I'm just continuing to learn and just takes what the defense gives me." 

It wasn't so much that the Pacers were giving Westbrook anything he was more in the mood to just take whatever he wanted and prevent the Pacers from getting much of anything they needed.

"We have the best rebounding point guard in the game and it all starts off with the contesting of their shots," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. 

The Thunder held Indiana to 43.2 percent shooting and they had another big rebiunding night, grabbing 57. Oklahoma City leads the NBA in overall rebounding and are second in offenisve rebounds and they pulled down 15 of those.

"We established things early with our defense and then give our bench a lot of credit, they took the game over with all the threes they hit," Brooks said. 

Yes that Thunder bench bailed out the team late in the third quarter. The Pacers had cut the lead down to just one point (65-64) with 4:32 to play in the third. The Thunder went on a quick 12-1 run highlighted by a Dion Waiters 3-ball off a pass from DJ Augustin. Then Thunder bench mates Augustin, Waiters and Anthony Morrow dropped consecutive 3-point bombs to destroy the Pacers hopes for a rally and stretch the lead out to 20 at 89-69 and that was pretty much that.

Serge Ibaka had another big night, dominating on both ends of the floor, scoring 23 points, hauling in 10 rebounds and blocking three shots. Ibaka has been an absolute beast lately and he was very difficult for Indiana to handle. 

Waiters finished with 14 points off the bench, hitting four 3-pointers and Morrow dropped in 12 on 5-for-9 shooting. 

Enes Kanter continues to get more comfortable, he scored 15 points while grabbing five rebounds and Mitch McGary was solid, if not spectacular at times, scoring nine points, pulling down eight rebounds, blocking two shots and licking up a couple of steals. 

And remember Kevin Durant isn't out there playing. 

The Thunder have now won seven straight and nine of their last 10. They go on the road now for games in Phoenix, Portland and Los Angeles against the Lakers. 

It's a crucial road trip which will further define a season of incredible challenges that have so far been met with grit and determination and now, finally, a winning streak.

 

Thunder Will Catch Pacers At Nearly Their Best

By Randy Renner

When it comes to dealing with injuries the Thunder don't have anything on the Indiana Pacers, in fact the Pacers have probably been hit harder than OKC, at least in the number and length of the injuries.

For much of the season some of the Pacers' key players have been on the injured list, losing a total of 180 games. Thunder players have lost a total of 144 games.

Pacers star Paul George, who broke his leg over the summer during Team USA workouts, is the only one left on the injured list now and it shows. Indy has won seven of the last 10 and the Pacers offense, which had been stuck in neutral all season, is shifting into high gear scoring 104.1 per game over their last seven after averaging 92.6 in their previous eight. They'd been averaging in the low to mid-90s most of the season.

The Thunder of course are dealing once again with Kevin Durant's absence. He will miss his 30th game tonight after having a procedure on Sunday to switch out a screw that had been inserted in his right foot to assist in the healing of that Jones fracture.

The head of that screw had been irritating a bone, which generally doesn't happen in those sorts of things, but it did in this instance. The bone is healing properly and is far enough along so that the change in screws could be made.

Durant will be re-evaluated at the end of the week and the team will have a better idea then  just how long he'll be gone this time.

Thanks to the brilliant leadership and play of All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook the Thunder have been playing their best basketball of the season lately, winning six straight and eight of their last nine.

The Thunder are averaging 115.5 points during their streak after entering the stretch scoring just 99.5 per game and to compliment that high scoring offense they're also holding opponents to just 40.9 percent shooting since January 26th, the best mark in the league. They also lead the NBA in rebounding at 47.2 per game and they're third in offensive rebounds (an area where they've traditionally struggled) at 12.3 per game.

This will also be a great chance to see what newly acquired center Enes Kanter can do as he goes up against Roy Hibbert. Hibbert is playing much better this season than last when there was talk of a trade, the big man is averaging 11.0 points on 45.4 percent shooting and 7.1 rebounds a game.

Indiana backup point guard Rodney Stuckey is coming off consecutive 30-point games off the bench. And the bench is a strong point for the Pacers. That group leads the NBA in bench rebounds at 19.4 a game and is third in scoring at 41.2 points so it will be interesting to see how the Thunder's new and improved bench against Indiana's.

Don't let the Pacers overall 23-33 record fool you, this bunch is as healthy as its been all season and playing better than at any other time this season so tonight's game should be a pretty good gauge of just where the Thunder are at this point.

Tipoff is set for 7:10 this evening on Fox Sports Oklahoma and for those of you outside the state, the game will also be carried on NBA-TV.

We'll have updates today from shootaround and from the arena late this afternoon. Be sure to check out our Twitter feed page for immediate updates.