When Russell Westbrook limped off with an ugly looking knee injury on Friday night, Caron Butler was like a large portion of the state’s basketball fans.
“When it initially happened, I saw him smack the ball and I was just like, ‘Oh, God,’” Butler recalled. “We all said a prayer — collectively — the whole state of Oklahoma.”
And soon after, Butler’s prayer was answered.
“When he went in the back, he kinda gave us a head nod, like, ‘I’m OK,’” Butler said. “That was a breath of fresh air.”
But for the rest of the state, there needed to be a bit more confirmation. That came on Saturday night, when news surfaced that Westbrook had passed the necessary medical tests.
And it was solidified on Sunday, with Westbrook going through the Thunder’s practice without any limitations.
“The video looks (worse) than what you think,” Westbrook said, trying to shoot down any lingering concern. “I was looking at the video and it just looks weird, but it’s not as bad as you think. I wasn’t really worried about it. Light sprain and I’ll be alright.”
As was already planned, Westbrook will play in one of the Thunder’s next two games – at home against Denver on Monday night and in Dallas on Tuesday – and rest the other.
When on the floor, Westbrook promises no limitations.
“Can’t play cautious. Can’t be timid,” Westbrook said. “Gotta play and be confident in what you’re doing.”
KEVIN DURANT’S TECHNICAL RESCINDED
Kevin Durant received a reprieve from the NBA.
On Sunday, the league rescinded his latest technical foul — called after his slight shove of Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough last Friday — reducing his season count from 15 to 14.
It’s an important ruling because once a player reaches 16 technicals, he is given an automatic suspension. Durant is now two away.
THUNDER FACE DEPLETED NUGGETS
The Denver Nuggets come to town on Monday afternoon.
But it’s not the Nuggets of years past, a franchise that has made the postseason 10 straight seasons, but is destined for the lottery this June.
And it’s not even the Nuggets of earlier this season, with injuries depleting an already thinning roster.
Four key rotation pieces — Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, JaVale McGee and J.J. Hickson — are out for the season with injuries.
But the Nuggets remain a competitive bunch, winning five of the past seven, including victories over the Heat and Clippers.
“Give Coach Shaw a lot of credit,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s been able to still manage and play competitive basketball.”
Caron Butler on Kevin Durant’s big game and the Thunder’s big win in Toronto: “I took the DVD home and watched it a couple of times. It was a special game.”