Clippers to get Russell Westbrook back next week, says Ty Lue

LA Clippers point guard Russell Westbrook will return to the lineup some time next week, coach Ty Lue stated before his team’s 125-117 win at Portland on Friday night.

Westbrook could be back to game action as soon as Monday versus the Indiana Pacers, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Monday’s game versus the Pacers will mark three weeks from when Westbrook underwent surgery to repair a fractured left hand he suffered March 1 against the Washington Wizards.

The Clippers have missed the aggressive energy and hustle of one of the league’s top sixth men. They are 6-5 without their one-time MVP point guard.

Westbrook is averaging 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 58 games. He started the first 10 games of the season but made the move to come off the bench to help the Clippers mesh better after the James Harden trade.

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From the first game he came off the bench versus the Houston Rockets on Nov. 17 to the time he suffered his hand injury, the Clippers went 28-8.

Westbrook’s return will provide a welcome jolt to Clippers team that recently lost four out of five games.

During Wednesday’s 116-103 win at Portland, Harden went viral for jokingly closing out on a Kawhi Leonard 3-point attempt after he passed to Leonard in the corner when the Clippers were up 21 in the third quarter. Leonard missed the 3, but the possession ended with Amir Coffey sinking an open 3.

Harden explained that he was trying to lighten the mood for the Clippers, who had been in a little bit of a funk up to that point.

“Got to bring some excitement to the team,” Harden said. “I think these last few weeks have been a fog for us, and I think every team goes through it. So I think it is just me trying to create a great energy, create a great vibe for this team. I mean, it would have been better if he would have made the shot. Just give something to laugh about, some excitement for the season.”

Westbrook is the only player to average 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench for a career since starters were first tracked in 1970-71 (minimum 50 games), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

He ranks in the top 10 in assists per game off the bench this season. And the Clippers will welcome his defense back as Westbrook has held adversaries to 39.7% shooting as the contesting defender, third best among players to contest 300 or more shots this season, according to Second Spectrum.

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