OKC Thunder: Reintegration of Russell Westbrook is again coming along slowly

This time around, the Thunder has taken a more cautious approach to Westbrook's return. There's the documented minutes restriction — from 33 per night to around 25 — and the in-game hints.
by Anthony Slater Published: February 24, 2014

But the nearly two-month lay-off has sent Westbrook's back into a similarly rusty state.

In the loss to Miami on Thursday, he shot 4-of-12 from the field and committed four turnovers in 24 minutes. At times, he looked visibly frustrated with his ballhandling, looking down at his hand after a sloppy dribble or tipped pass.

“It'll come back,” Westbrook said. “Slowly but surely.”

In Sunday's loss to the Clippers, Westbrook's handle looked a bit better, but his typically lethal midrange remained off.

Three times, Westbrook rose up for one of those patented 15-foot bankers. Each time, he missed badly on the angle.

Against the Clippers, he shot 3-of-12. In two games, he's 7-of-25 overall, 5-of-13 at the rim (with two of the makes wide open fastbreak dunks) and 0-of-5 from mid-range.

But the Thunder refuses to panic. And the two losses have been far more about defensive lapses, where Westbrook is far from the biggest culprit.

Athletically, in flashes, he looks like the same Westbrook. And in the grand scheme, that's the real concern.

“He had moments where you would think, ‘Man, has this guy missed any time?' with how explosive he was,” Miami's Dwyane Wade said on Thursday. “It's going to come.”

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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