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Russell Westbrook to make early return for Thunder

Pro BasketballBasketballSportsRussell WestbrookOklahoma City ThunderLos Angeles LakersReggie Jackson (basketball)

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City's All-Star point guard, is set to make his return for the Thunder on Sunday night against the Phoenix Suns, nearly a month earlier than originally forecast after knee surgery in early October.

Westbrook, an All-NBA second-team selection last season, initially injured the meniscus in his right knee last spring. He then opted for follow-up arthroscopic surgery on the knee on Oct. 1. Oklahoma City said Westbrook, 24, would be out four to six weeks and miss about 20 games.

“Russell Westbrook has gone through a methodical rehab process jointly created by our medical and performance teams and treating physicians,” Thunder General Manager Sam Presti said in a statement.

“The process has been instrumental in getting Russell to this point and has included various physical and medical benchmarks. The final benchmark being unrestricted basketball activity. After hitting the necessary marks, all parties, including the team, consulting physicians, Russell’s representatives, and most importantly Russell, jointly determined that returning to play was the correct next step.”

Westbrook, a three-time All-Star out of UCLA and Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger High, averaged 23.2 points, 7.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals last season. He injured his knee in the second game of the playoffs.

The Thunder opened the season 1-1, with backup guard Reggie Jackson starting in place of Westbrook.

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