Judging by his 17 points and nine apiece of assists and rebounds, Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook’s night off Sunday, prior to Oklahoma City’s 97-85 win Monday evening over the Bulls at the United Center, paid off.
“You never know what you’re going to get from him. He’s a live wire. He’s been like that ever since I played against him at UCLA,” said Bulls’ sixth man Taj Gibson of his college rival. “He’s so athletic and you’ve just got to hope that he’s having a rough night. I thought Kirk was trying to get into him a couple times, but once him and Kevin get hot, it’s tough to contain both of them.
The explosive L.A. native had all the bounce, lift and power that he’s renowned for, even after his third surgical procedure on his knee in a year, going back to when he was initially injured in last spring’s playoffs. The Thunder’s decision to have him rest for one game in Oklahoma City’s remaining back-to-back sets in the regular season is an interesting strategy, but one that has to at least strike a chord in Chicago, as Westbrook’s close friend and offseason workout partner, Derrick Rose, has his own knee ailments and ongoing rehabilitation to deal with.
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“Russell had to deal with his situation and really the first time, from what I’ve been told, he’s ever been injured and it looks like he’s bounced back extremely well,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Derrick has basically been unscathed until the ACL or the lockout year where he had a little nagging. So I have confidence in Derrick’s ability to bounce back.”
For his part, Westbrook believes Rose will come back at the same level as he was prior to his 2012 ACL injury, let alone this season’s torn meniscus.
“Very confident. I’ve talked to him numerous times. He’s a tough guy, as you guys know. He does a good job of coming out competing. It’s unfortunate he had to be hurt and out another year. But he’s going to come back the same ‘D-Rose’ he was before,” said Westbrook, who also divulged some of their workout routine. “We used to do one-on-one and two-on-two and things like that. But not much scrimmaging. We get enough of that throughout the year, especially Derrick. Derrick plays a lot and has to do a lot for his team. I don’t think it’s much needed in the summer time.”