Sources: Clippers will bring back Russell Westbrook next week

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LA Clippers point guard Russell Westbrook is expected to return to the lineup next week, perhaps on Monday against the Indiana Pacers, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Monday’s game against the Pacers will come three weeks after Westbrook had to have surgery on a broken left hand he suffered March 1 against Washington.

The Clippers have missed the offensive energy and hustle of one of the league’s top sixth-place players. They were 5-5 without their former MVP point guard heading into Friday’s game in Portland.

Westbrook has averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 58 games this season. He started the first 10 games of the season but made the move to come off the bench to help improve the Clippers’ mesh following the James Harden trade.

From the first game against Houston on November 17 until his hand injury against Washington on March 1, the Clippers went 28–8.

Westbrook’s return would be a blow to a Clippers team that has recently lost four of five games.

During Wednesday’s 116-103 win at Portland, when the Clippers were up by 21 in the third quarter, Harden went viral for jokingly blocking Kawhi Leonard’s 3-point attempt as he passed Leonard in the corner. They went. Leonard missed the 3, but the possession ended with Amir Coffey missing an open 3.

Harden explained that he was trying to lighten the mood of the Clippers, who were in a bit of trouble up to that point.

“Gotta bring some excitement to the team,” Harden said of the moment. “I think the last few weeks have been a blur for us, and I think every team goes through that. So I think it’s just me trying to create a great energy, create a great atmosphere for this team.” Trying to. I mean, it would have been better if he had had a shot. Just give something to laugh about, some excitement for the season.”

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

He is in the top-10 in assists per game off the bench this season. And the Clippers will welcome his defense as the point guard has held opponents to 39.7% shooting as a competitive defender this season, third best among players contesting 300 or more shots per second on the spectrum.

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