Russell Westbrook's left foot still looked swollen as he slipped off his shower sandals and began to slip on his sock.
But you wouldn't know it by how he played Saturday.
Westbrook scored 25 points in 37 minutes, 42 seconds of action in the Thunder's 97-90 loss to Atlanta. He did it on a gimpy ankle that he sprained less than 48 hours earlier at Orlando.
When he walked out of Amway Center, he walked with an extreme limp, a scene that seemed like he would have no shot at lacing up his sneakers against the Hawks. But the Thunder's point guard was a game-time decision, and he again proved to be a gamer, keeping his consecutive games streak alive and extending it to 283 games.
“I did all right,” Westbrook said. “I could have done a better job of defending and rebounding. I didn't get an opportunity to get no rebounds today. Especially at my position, if I can get loose balls it can lead to fast breaks. The next game, I'm going to do a better job of that.”
After being hard on himself, Westbrook finally did fess up to being proud of himself for playing on.
“Definitely,” Westbrook said. “Our training staff is great here. I just spent the last two days trying to take care of myself and trying to find a way to come out and help my team win. Unfortunately, we couldn't come out with the win.”
THABO SEFOLOSHA PROGRESSING FROM FOOT INJURY
Thabo Sefolosha is now shooting jump shots during practice sessions and in pregame workouts. It's the latest step in his recovery from a right foot injury that the team is still calling soreness but has caused the starting shooting guard to miss the past 18 games.
Previously, Sefolosha was limited to standstill shots from various spots on the floor. He also wore a protective boot on his foot to immobilize it during periods of inactivity to speed the recovery process.
“Thabo is actually on the court a little more,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “It's just standstill, not a lot of movement. But we see some good signs. We'll just see how he feels day-to-day.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins was whistled for five fouls in 13 minutes Saturday. Three of them were offensive fouls. … Perkins and Harden were shown on the kiss cam during a third quarter timeout. … Atlanta guard Jannero Pargo hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to give the Hawks a 76-75 lead. … Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich wore a pair of Durant's low top signature KD IIIs. … Former NBA center Dikembe Mutombo, who once played for Atlanta, attended Saturday night's game. He was in the Thunder's locker room after the game holding court with forward Serge Ibaka. … The Georgia Tech men's basketball team hosted a noon game against Wake Forest inside Philips Arena on Saturday. Tech won 69-62.
Atlanta forward Josh Smith: “We don't forget about the last-second shot where they had the game won down there in Oklahoma City last year. We wanted to be able to try to return the favor and be able to win this game tonight.”
The Thunder returns to Chesapeake Energy Arena, where it will open a five-game home stand on Monday against Dallas. It will be the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Thunder is 2-1 against the Mavs this season.