Thunder's Russell Westbrook eyeing Sunday for possible return

LOS ANGELES -- Russell Westbrook sat out Friday's game against the LA Clippers, the second straight game he has missed as he recovers from knee surgery, but he is eyeing a possible return in Sunday's game against the Sacramento Kings.

After going through an energetic post-shootaround workout, which included a few emphatic tomahawk dunks, Westbrook met with the Oklahoma City Thunder's medical staff and decided to sit against the Clippers. He has been increasing his practice workload, including being cleared for basically full-contact practices and drills.

"A lot of it is him and the medical staff talking to each other and him giving feedback," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "In my conversations with him, it's always how he's feeling the next day. And I think for him, he needs to be right because you don't want to have something lingering. And he knows his body better than anybody else."

Westbrook went through his full pregame routine prior to both the Warriors game on Tuesday and the Clippers game. He looked like himself physically, with sharp cuts and bouncy finishes at the rim, but he was a bit rusty with his jumper, particularly his patented stop-and-pop pull-up.

The Thunder are staying overnight in Los Angeles after their game against the Clippers, and they won't practice Saturday. There is no shootaround scheduled Sunday, only a midafternoon walk-through, so a decision on Westbrook's status likely won't be available until near tipoff.

Westbrook underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Sept. 12 and has been progressing closer toward a return the past week.

Without Westbrook, the Thunder have started 0-2, with a close loss to the Warriors and a flat, fourth-quarter face plant against the Clippers, getting outscored 37-15 in the final frame. The Thunder haven't started 0-2 since the 2014-15 season, when both Kevin Durant and Westbrook were injured.

The Thunder fell behind to the Clippers 16-0 in the opening minutes but managed to come back and lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Clippers made a lineup adjustment, closing with Boban Marjanovic patrolling the paint, and the Thunder struggled to adjust.

"We were way too easy to guard," Donovan said. "The ball was never moved."

The Thunder finished shooting just 35.8 percent from the field and an anemic 7-of-33 from 3. And with the Clippers tightening their defense in the fourth quarter and the Thunder missing shots, the absence of Westbrook was felt.

"Russ is a good floor general, good leader," Paul George said. "For us, he's instant offense."

George struggled shooting against the Clippers, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-27 shooting. Westbrook's replacement, Dennis Schroder, scored just 8 on 2-of-15 shooting.

"It's no panic, we've got one of the best players coming back to our team at some point," George said. "But, I take a lot of pressure on that. I've still got to get this group ready to go. I've got to get this group ready to win games regardless if Russ is out there or if Russ is not."