Russell Westbrook, who was to take the reins of the team with Kevin Durant out with a broken foot, broke his hand in the second quarter of Oklahoma City’s second game of the season Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook, the NBA All-Star point guard, suffered a small fracture of the second metacarpal in his right hand, coach Scott Brooks said. Westbrook appeared to injure his hand while going up for a rebound and hitting Kendrick Perkins’ elbow. After the play, Westbrook grimaced and looked down at his right hand as he tried to make a fist.
X-rays taken at Staples Center showed the fracture and Westbrook was set to be re-evaluated Friday, when he will learn how long the injury will sideline him. He returned to the Thunder bench in the third quarter, still in uniform but with a bag of ice wrapped around his hand, then left for the locker room again at the end of the quarter. He had a soft cast on his hand when he left Staples Center and didn’t talk with reporters.
The Thunder, already playing without the injured key players Durant, guards Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb. Also, three-point specialist Anthony Morrow and Grant Jerrett and Mitch McGary are sidelined with injuries.
“It’s unfortunate the way it is right now,” Brooks said, “but we have to figure out how to get better from all of our experiences. Good teams and good players bounce back from adversity, and our guys understand that.”
As Westbrook was walking back to the locker room after the injury, he had to be restrained from a heckling fan yelling at him from above the tunnel.
He finished with two points and four assists in nine minutes in the 93-90 loss to the Clippers.
Oklahoma City plans to apply for the NBA’s hardship exception, which allows a team to add an additional player to the roster if it has at least four players out with injuries for a minimum of two weeks. The current four are Durant, Jerrett, McGary and Morrow.
If Westbrook is declared out, the Thunder will be able to apply for another hardship exception.
The players must miss a minimum of three games before the Thunder can apply for the first exception, so the Thunder can’t file for it until after their game against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Westbrook would have to miss three games before the Thunder could apply for the second exception. That could happen after their game against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 4.