SPORTS

Thunder G Russell Westbrook to return Friday night vs. Knicks

11/28/2014 12:40 EST | Updated 01/28/2015 05:59 EST
OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook finally gets to put his fashionable suit collection away.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after Friday's shootaround that his ultra-athletic point guard will return to action Friday night and start against the New York Knicks.

Westbrook, a three-time All-Star, broke a bone in his right hand against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second game of the season, and he hasn't played since. He was reevaluated this week and finally was cleared to play.

"I'm just excited to get back to my game routine," he said. "Go home, take my nap — normal things I usually do to get myself prepared for a game. You kind of miss all that stuff when you're sitting on the sideline in a suit. I'm about to take all my suits to the cleaners and pick them up at the end of the season."

Westbrook averaged 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists in 19 playoff games last season. He was expected to pick up the slack after MVP Kevin Durant broke a bone in his right foot before the season began. Westbrook opened the season with a 38-point effort at Portland before getting hurt against the Los Angeles Clippers. Without the pair, the Thunder won just four of their first 16 games.

Even as the losses piled up, Westbrook felt the team showed determination. The Thunder entered Friday's action fourth in the league in defensive field-goal percentage and fourth in points allowed.

"They compete," Westbrook said. "We've got a group of guys that compete every night. Regardless of whether we win or lose, we know our guys came out and gave it all we had. They compete. That's the best thing about our team."

Westbrook will wear a brace on the hand.

"It's cool," he said. "I'd rather not wear it, but I have to wear it. I got used to it over the past few weeks."

Reggie Jackson, who filled in and averages 20.2 points and 7.8 assists, will return to his backup role. Durant is still unavailable, but at least Brooks has one of his stars.

"Russell has great passion for the game," Brooks said. "He's been a great, tremendous leader for us. He brings toughness, the emotional part, what it takes for a team to be successful. He's obviously one of the best players in the league, so we're all excited to have him back."

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

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