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Rockets’ Russell Westbrook looks ‘as explosive as ever’ in Thursday scrimmage

9:49 AM ET

Tim MacMahon

CloseESPN Staff WriterJoined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009Covers the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas MavericksAppears regularly on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM

Adrian Wojnarowski

CloseSenior NBA InsiderHost of The Woj Pod
Joined ESPN in 2017

The Houston Rockets held an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday to get All-Star guard Russell Westbrook his first full-speed, 5-on-5 action since he was diagnosed with a strained right quadriceps, sources told ESPN.

“He looked as explosive as ever,” a source said.

Barring any setbacks, there’s an expectation that he will be ready to return for Game 5 with the playoffs resuming Saturday.

“He’ll go through practice today, and if things are normal, we expect him to be ready to go.,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said before Friday’s practice. “I’m sure he’ll have time restraints. We have not talked about that at all, and that won’t be discussed until tomorrow. I’m planning on it, but you never know, and Russ will be hard to hold down. I’m sure he’s anxious and ready to roll.”

Westbrook didn’t have much to say about his injury – “Just taking it one day at a time” – but spoke passionately on the action the league is taking to address voter suppression and push for police reform.

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“I’m excited to play, but I’m more excited that we’re playing for a cause,” Westbrook said. “Playing [because] we’re in agreeance to be able to make sure there’s action. For guys like myself and I’m pretty sure guys around the league, we play and we have our names on the back of our jerseys and we have our messaging on the backs of our jersey, and that means something. It’s not just something that we put on there for fun or for kicks and giggles, but it actually means something.

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“I personally take action and take responsibility in being an African-American athlete, being a Black man in this society, having a son of my own and having other kids look up to me from my neighborhood and around the world. That’s what I’m most excited about moving forward. Obviously, basketball is our platform. It’s something that I love and embrace to do, but to me, [fighting for social justice] is the most important reason why we are actually even coming back to play. Because if there wasn’t any agreeance or there was no action moving towards some of the things we talked about as players, and me personally, I wouldn’t be playing.”

Westbrook missed the first four games of the Rockets’ series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, his former team. With the series tied, he planned to test the quadriceps pregame in an attempt to play in Game 5 Wednesday, but NBA games were postponed because of players protesting racial injustice.

Westbrook, a late arrival to the NBA’s Walt Disney World Resort campus in Florida because he tested positive for COVID-19, felt soreness in his right quadriceps after the Rockets’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Aug. 4. He sat out the next two games because of what the team originally deemed a right quad contusion.

Westbrook played 28 minutes in Houston’s Aug. 11 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, recording 20 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The Rockets announced the next day that an MRI had revealed that Westbrook had a strained muscle in his quad, and he has not played since.

Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game in his first season with the Rockets. Westbrook joined Houston in a blockbuster trade with Oklahoma City last summer.


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