Clippers’ Russell Westbrook has surgery on left hand

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook — one of the NBA’s top sixth men — underwent surgery on his fractured left hand on Monday, and there’s hope he’ll return before the start of the Western Conference playoffs in April, sources told ESPN.

The club described his status as week-to-week.

Westbrook fractured his non-shooting hand in a Friday night triumph over the visiting Washington Wizards. He will now start rehabilitation to return to the Clippers, who have emerged as a championship contender this campaign. Westbrook returned in less than four weeks after fracturing his right hand in 2014 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, missing only 14 matches.

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If Westbrook returns in April, the Clippers will have eight matches in 14 days, including two back-to-backs, before the postseason begins.

The Clippers will have to find a way to replace Westbrook’s energy and aggression. After he left during the first half on Friday due to the injury, reserve guard Bones Hyland saw his most playing time since early November. Hyland logged 16 minutes versus Washington and 14 minutes on Sunday at the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Westbrook came into the season as the starting point guard. But the Clippers acquired James Harden in a trade late on Oct. 30, and after a six-game losing streak, Westbrook made the move to come off the bench in an attempt to help things flow better between their four stars on the court. LA went 35-13 after that with Westbrook coming off the bench.

Westbrook has averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the Clips this season.

LA entered Monday night’s game at the Milwaukee Bucks with a record of 39-20 and in fourth place in the conference.

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