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Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook's injury rocks Thunder

It didn't look like much when Russell Westbrook collided with Houston's Patrick Beverley, but by lunch time Friday, that collision had turned a Thunder Up city and state upside down and cast doubt over Oklahoma City's hopes of returning to the NBA Finals.
by Ryan Aber Modified: April 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm •  Published: April 26, 2013

/articleid/3804000/1/pictures/2036961">Photo - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) goes over the top of Houston's Omer Asik (3) during Game 2 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook (0) goes over the top of Houston's Omer Asik (3) during Game 2 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

The Thunder hasn't lost one of its stars for any significant amount of time in five seasons in Oklahoma City, but that streak came to an end when Westbrook's knee met Beverley's hip.

Kevin Durant and Westbrook are the team's unquestioned stars, and now the Thunder must move forward — at least in this round and likely beyond if the Thunder can advance — without one of their centerpieces.

Durant will be asked to handle the ball more and take on even more of the scoring load, and an unproven Reggie Jackson and a 38-year-old Derek Fisher will have to carry the load at point guard

“I know that I have to do a better job of being a better leader,” Durant said. “It's going to be a tough task for us but we are all looking forward to it.”

The injury wasn't quite as dramatic as the injury Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls suffered during last year's first round.

The severity of Rose's injury (a torn anterior cruciate ligament) was apparent as soon as he landed. It took two days for the Thunder to learn how bad Westbrook's knee was hurt.

It also doesn't figure Westbrook will take as long to recover as Rose, who still hasn't returned from his knee injury.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti said the timetable for Westbrook's possible return wouldn't be set until after surgery.

Fans remained hopeful that Westbrook could return this postseason.

“If Russell's able to walk and play, then he'll contribute,” Edmond's Jerry Burnstein said as he walked around the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon Health and Fitness Expo downtown. “It's just awful that he's hurt. I can't believe it happened.”

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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