Thunder notebook: Russell Westbrook suffers sprained ankle

OKC guard is listed as day-to-day, though Westbrook tells media after game that he feels fine.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: March 1, 2012
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With 5:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook rolled his left ankle while driving to the basket.

Westbrook remained in the game and played through it, even making two free throws right after sustaining the injury and assisting on two momentum-changing 3-pointers in the final 3 1/2 minutes.

After the game, however, he walked out of the arena with a limp and was said to have an ankle sprain. He will be listed as day-to-day.

“I feel all right,” Westbrook said.

Westbrook has played in 282 consecutive games, the third longest streak among active players. It's a streak that will be at risk for the second time this season when the Thunder closes its three-game road trip at Atlanta on Saturday. Westbrook also rolled his ankle against Golden State on Feb. 17. He had to leave that game but played two nights later and scored 40 points.

Westbrook said his streak is now secondary.

“I'm much more focused on my career,” he said. “I think missing a game instead of missing (more time) in the long run won't hurt you. So we'll just see how it feels and hopefully I'll be able to play.”

SCOTT BROOKS EXPERIMENTING WITH KEVIN DURANT

Thunder coach Scott Brooks rarely deviates from his substitution pattern. But when injuries mounted, Brooks had to start getting creative.

One of the ways he's done that lately is by shortening Kevin Durant's court time at the start of the game. Durant generally plays either all 12 minutes of the first quarter or gets subbed out with about two minutes remaining in the opening period. In a couple of recent games, including Wednesday at Philadelphia, however, Brooks sat Durant with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first period.

“I try to mix it up with him, just to give our second unit a different look,” Brooks said. “It's really game-to-game. I like changing it up with him. I don't do it often. “But with Kevin, he's going to get his minutes because they're always played hard and he's one of our better players. But it really wasn't anything other than just giving the second unit a different look.”

Brooks did say the strategy sometimes depends on matchups, specifically the size of opponents' big men.

“Sometimes he can play (power forward) with the second unit because a lot of teams don't have four bigs,” Brooks said. “You're almost trying to predict what they're going to do and trying to be more aggressive so you can dictate your game plan to the team.”

Durant said he just needs to adjust.

“I still end up playing a lot of minutes…I just got to get used to it more and more,” Durant said. “Every time I step on the floor, I always have a rhythm so I got to know when I'm coming out the game and when I'm going back in so I can be prepared. I'm fine with it. I really believe in everything Coach does and (believe it's) good for our team.”

IBAKA CLEANING THE GLASS

Entering Thursday's game at Orlando, forward Serge Ibaka had pulled down 72 offensive rebounds in his previous 18 games. That's four per game over that stretch.

It's led to a spike in scoring, as Ibaka has averaged 9.8 points over that same span.

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