Russell Westbrook is no stranger to knee injuries, and the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard believes Derrick Rose will return from a second knee surgery in as many years as good as ever.
"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," Westbrook said prior to Monday night's tilt against the Bulls. "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."
Rose has been out since suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee in late November, the same injury Westbrook suffered in mid-April during last year's playoffs. Westbrook also opted for surgery during the offseason, and in October had a second surgery performed to address swelling in the knee. In late December he underwent a third surgery to clean out the knee, which again had swelling.
He returned after the All-Star break and has been playing well, averaging 22.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. He sat out last night in the Thunder's loss to the Mavericks -- Scott Brooks said Westbrook will skip half of the team's back-to-back sets down the stretch -- but is confident he'll still be able to find a rhythm and help Oklahoma City compete for the top spot in the Western Conference.
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"You have to have confidence in yourself and health and knowing the rehab and all the work you put in has paid off," he said. "It’s important for me to make sure my health is OK. How long (sitting out back-to-backs going to last, I’m not sure. For now all I can do is just go day by day and figure out what I’m going to do next."
Kevin Durant also said he's confident in Rose's eventual return to the lineup, and said the Bulls organization shouldn't have doubts, either.
"I’m very confident he’s going to come back," he said. "He works extremely hard and the medical staffs that we have in this league, around this country are so advanced that he’s definitely going to get the right treatment and I’m confident he’s going to come back, and I’m sure the organization, the Bulls organization, the Bulls’ fans are confident, as well."