It didn't look like much at first.
Russell Westbrook slapped the scorer's table as he hopped around on one leg, grimacing and then glaring at Patrick Beverley. But when Westbrook stayed in Wednesday night's game, playing well enough to finish with 29 points and help the Thunder to a 2-0 series lead, the only question about Westbrook's collision with the Houston reserve guard was whether it might linger in an already emotional NBA Playoff series.
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.
Westbrook tore the C-shaped cartilage that acts as a pad between his right thighbone and shinbone.
The OKC point guard will undergo surgery on his lateral meniscus soon, and the severity and location of the tear could determine how long he'll be out. Could be a couple weeks. Could be a couple months.
He's out for the rest of the Thunder-Rockets series, which resumes at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Houston (ESPN).
“This is part of basketball; it's part of sports; it's part of competition,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We accept that. We don't enjoy that but we accept that. Injuries are part of sports and every team has to deal with them.”
Westbrook has played in all 439 games in Thunder history — regular season and playoffs.
He also never missed a game in college or high school.
Westbrook went on to score 20 more points after the injury happened with 5:34 left in the first half. He sat out the final 1:53 of the first half after picking up his third foul but played the entire second half.
That left the impression that all was well with Westbrook's right knee.
Some thought the play by Beverley — coming just after the Thunder called for a timeout — was dirty.
Westbrook's brother, Raynard, who played football at Central Oklahoma, seemed to be in the group, with a tweet that seemed to be directed at Beverley.
Without mentioning Beverley by name, Raynard Westbrook implied that the Rockets' guard was trying to “make a name” and added “who are you.”
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.”