Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) recaps last night’s win over the Pelicans: “All the Thunder’s bugaboos from the first two weeks of the season were striking at the same time. Russell Westbrook wasn’t able to be on the floor. Nine free throws went awry. The Thunder committed three straight fouls with less than three minutes to go, and nine total in the fourth quarter. Yet as Dennis Schröder anticipated the inbounds pass on the New Orleans Pelicans’ final possession and snatched it away, the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd shed their anxiety and a wave of relief cascaded down upon the court. Instead of buckling, Head Coach Billy Donovan’s club locked arms and stuck it out in a harrowing final frame for a 122-116 victory, making it five straight wins for the 5-4 Thunder. “We had some fouls that we gave, but that didn’t sidetrack us,” said forward Paul George. “That didn’t put any extra pressure on us. Down the stretch we just held up defensively.”
Highlights (and the big lowlight) from the win over New Orleans:
Royce Young (ESPN) on Russell Westbrook’s left ankle injury: “Thunder guard Russell Westbrook left the floor late in the third quarter Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans with what the team called a left ankle sprain. Westbrook underwent X-rays and they were negative. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said the severity of the sprain was unknown and that the team will have a better idea on Tuesday. Westbrook was leaping for a rebound against Anthony Davis and came down awkwardly, rolling over in pain before slapping the floor. He got up and limped immediately to the locker room with help from trainers. “Russ has a pretty high pain tolerance, so I knew it was something that was serious,” Paul George said. “I was just hoping it wasn’t his knee. I thought I saw him holding his knee. I think we can all say it’s unfortunate, we can all say as bad as it was we’re happy it wasn’t the knee and that it was just an ankle sprain.”
Olivia Panchal (Daily Thunder) with an assessment of what Westbrook might be dealing with moving forward: “Per the Thunder medical staff, Westbrook suffered a “left ankle sprain.” This is an intentionally vague diagnosis, as the organization will need to evaluate Westbrook further to determine the severity and location of the sprain. Low ankle sprains typically heal faster than high ankle sprains and the severity, or “grade”, of the sprain will determine how many games Westbrook will ultimately miss. Low Grade 1 ankle sprains typically take 2-4 weeks to heal, with a Grade 2 ranging from 6-8 weeks. High ankle sprains generally come with a minimum of four weeks recovery time. It’s difficult to guess how many games Westbrook will miss without knowing the severity or location of the sprain, but by the looks of things, it’s certainly not “serious” in terms of being season-ending. Per ESPN’s Royce Young, Westbrook did have an x-ray on his ankle, which was thankfully negative.”
Jenni Carlson (Oklahoman) on Westbrook’s injury taking the life out of Chesapeake Energy Arena: “Russell Westbrook went down on the court. Air went out of the building. As the Thunder point guard writhed, no one inside The Peake moved. There was a sense — a terrible, horrible gut feeling — this was bad. Westbrook ends up on the floor a lot. When a guy plays the way he does, getting knocked down is a way of life. But midway through the third quarter Monday night when his left foot came down on the side of Anthony Davis’ sneaker, the outside of Westbrook’s foot laid over completely. His ankle bone seemed to touch pine. It looked awful. The short-term result for the Thunder wasn’t — OKC 122, New Orleans 116 — but the long-term prognosis is much more uncertain. The Thunder indicated Westbrook had a left ankle sprain, and while that seems to undersell the injury’s severity, it could’ve been much worse.”
Kurt Helin (NBC Sports) on how the impact of a potential Westbrook absence: “The Thunder are 7.7 points per 100 possessions better when Westbrook is on the court and have won five straight. They are not the same team without Westbrook and will now have to ask a lot more of Dennis Schröeder. The good news is they move into a relatively soft part of the schedule for a couple of weeks (Cleveland, Dallas, Phoenix twice, the Knicks) so they should be able to hold their ground. However, if this is a Grade 2 sprain, if the Thunder have to go a month or more without the former MVP, it could alter the shape of the West playoff chase. It’s watching and waiting now with Westbrook’s ankle.”
Steven Adams with a NSFW reaction to Westbrook’s injury: Couldn’t say it any better than this.
And a feel-good story because you might need it this morning…
Maddie Lee (NewsOK) on how Westbrook helped Terrance Ferguson with his shot: “It was midnight, Terrance Ferguson was on his way to the gym after a tough loss, and he got a call from Russell Westbrook. “Where you at?” Westbrook asked. Ferguson told him, and Westbrook responded, “OK, I’ll be there in 20.” When Ferguson retold the story Sunday, he couldn’t remember exactly which loss it had been. The Thunder had four straight to start the season, and Ferguson was in a shooting slump for all of them. But he said the 30- to 45-minute conversation he had with Westbrook that night helped draw him out of that rut. After shooting 7-of-24 from the field and 1-of-14 from beyond the arc through the Thunder’s first seven games, Ferguson knocked down three 3-pointers against Washington Friday. The basic gist of Westbrook’s message to Ferguson that late night in the gym had been, stop thinking and stressing so much. Just let it go. The fact that the conversation happened at all shocked Ferguson.”
Around the League: The Nuggets are very good…. Draymond Green is dealing with a foot injury…. Jimmy Butler doesn’t want to talk about his future…. More “City” alternate jerseys have been rolled out…. Allen Iverson wants the NBA to reinforce its AI-inspired dress-code…. Should the Wizards trade John Wall?…. Recapping last night’s NBA action.