Westbrook returns to practice

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HOUSTON ROCKETS point guard Russell Westbrook participated in his first practice since clearing the NBA’s coronavirus quarantine protocol. — HOUSTON ROCKETS FACEBOOK PAGE

NBA team scrimmages resume

HOUSTON Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook participated in his first practice Wednesday since clearing the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) coronavirus quarantine protocol.

He said he was “thankful and blessed” to rejoin his teammates to prepare for the upcoming restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The nine-time All-Star announced his positive COVID-19 test on July 13. He told reporters Wednesday he was largely asymptomatic “other than a stuffy nose.”

“I’ve been at home, trying to be productive,” he said. “Obviously, not able to get on the basketball floor, but finding ways to stay active, doing as much conditioning as I can probably do. We’ll see (the conditioning level) when I get out there, but that’s the last thing that I worry about. I’m in pretty good shape, so I should be all right.”

Coach Mike D’Antoni said Westbrook could participate in Friday’s scrimmage against the Toronto Raptors.


“Whatever he wants is cool,” D’Antoni said. “He knows his body. Again, we’re not talking about just a normal athlete. We’re talking about a super athlete, and I sometimes underestimate it. … We rely on him and the medical staff to make an informed decision, and whatever that decision is, we’ll go with it.”

The Rockets resume the season on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks.

Westbrook, 31, averaged 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 53 games before the season came to a halt on March 11 amid the pandemic.

Westbrook is in his first season with the Rockets after being acquired in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder last summer. He played 11 seasons with the Thunder, highlighted by a 2016-17 campaign in which he earned MVP honors after averaging a career-best 31.6 points to go along with 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists.

Meanwhile, NBA team scrimmages resumed on Wednesday in Orlando since the league suspended the season on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winning their matches were the Los Angeles Clippers, who defeated the Orlando Magic, 99-90.

Also going away with a win were the Denver Nuggets over the Washington Wizards, 89-82; New Orleans Pelicans over the Brooklyn Nets, 99-68; and the Miami Heat over the Sacramento Kings, 104-98.

The NBA is set to resume its season on July 30 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. — Reuters