"He looked as explosive as ever," that is the quote from an unnamed source after seeing Russell Westbrook scrimmage with the Rockets on Thursday. If there are no setbacks, Westbrook will play in game five vs. The Thunder.
ESPN is reporting that the scrimmage was 5 on 5, full speed, and Westbrooks's first action since being diagnosed with a strained right quad. Westbrook's last game was on August 11th, when he played 27 minutes and scored 20 points against the San Antonio Spurs.
Westbrook's return can't come a moment too soon for Houston. The Rockets have blown fourth-quarter leads in back to back games and find themselves in a dog fight with Oklahoma City. Putting Westbrook back on the floor means there is one less shooter for Houston.
The Rockets are taking more than 60 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. During game four, Houston took 58 three-point shots even if they went cold it's apparent the Rockets have gotten comfortable playing a particular style.
How Westbrook fits in it remains to be seen there is a chance he could disrupt what the Rockets have built. If Mike D'Antoni chose to bench him during critical moments in the game to do with a more shooter friendly lineup, if that's the case, you know it won't sit well with Westbrook, which could cause issues in the locker room.
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On the other hand, Westbrook's ability to get into the paint will open up opportunities for all the other shooters on the floor, plus he's a 76 percent free-throw shooter, and part of his goal will be to get to the line as often as he can. While the Thunder have made 13 more free throws then the Rockets have attempted, Houston is still shooting 88 percent from the line.
Lu Dort will be tied up with James Harden as he should be, but it would be fun to watch Billy Donovan give him the chance to guard Westbrook if he is proving to be too much to handle.
Thunder/Rockets Saturday on Fox Sports Oklahoma and 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.