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Oklahoma City Thunder: Play that injured Russell Westbrook is seen hundreds of times every NBA season

In Game 2 on Wednesday, Houston guard Patrick Beverley swiped at the ball. In the process, the left side of his hip collided with Russell Westbrook's right knee. John Rohde takes a look at why a swipe at the ball as a timeout is called is a fairly common move in the NBA.
BY JOHN ROHDE Published: April 26, 2013

You see it hundreds of times every NBA season. A coach motions for his player to cross half court before requesting a timeout.

And almost every time, a defender takes a swipe at the ball as timeout simultaneously is called.

Why half court?

Sideline out-of-bounds plays are a staple in the NBA. Teams run multiple plays out of a half-court set.

Because teams are granted the ball at the 28-foot hash for timeouts called in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and/or any overtime period, in-bound plays frequently determine the outcome of games. Therefore, sideline OB plays are practiced constantly.

Why swipe at the ball?

Because it's not a timeout until the official says it's a timeout.

Players who assume timeouts and haphazardly handle the ball frequently have lost possession before timeouts actually are granted.

Denver's Andre Miller and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers are two players notorious for stealing the ball on such occasions.

Midway through the second quarter of Game 2 on Wednesday, Houston guard Patrick Beverley swiped at the ball. In the process, the left side of his hip collided with the right knee of Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook had never missed a game in his NBA career but is now sidelined indefinitely after suffering a lateral meniscus tear in his knee.

“That's obviously terrible when someone like that goes down with an injury like that,” Rockets forward Chandler Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “You never want that on anybody. I was completely shocked because he finished the game.

“Patrick tried to steal the ball before he called time out. It's not a dirty play at all. It's unfortunate he got hurt, but it's not like Pat did it on purpose. He was trying to help our team win the game. It wasn't malicious or anything. Pat just tried to take advantage of him calling timeout and not being ready.”

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