Author: D.J. Foster

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook takes a break on the court against the Houston Rockets in the second half of their Game 2 NBA Playoffs basketball game in Oklahoma City.

Report: OKC hopeful Russell Westbrook will play in Feb. 20 matchup with Miami


And the rich stand to get much, much richer.

The Oklahoma City Thunder already own the league’s best record, and if you had to call it right now, they have the league MVP in Kevin Durant as well. Most thought the Thunder could reasonably stay afloat during this time, but few expected them to thrive without point guard Russell Westbrook.

Oklahoma City has gone 22-8 in Westbrook’s absence, rebounding nicely from the bumpy beginnings without their star to hit a groove going into the All-Star break.

Let’s not forget how much better the Thunder is at full-strength, though. OKC is 21-4 on the season with Westbrook in the lineup. When healthy, this team is a juggernaut.

But you know who else is a juggernaut? The Miami Heat. Oklahoma City already took down Miami once without Westbrook this season, but asking them to do it a second time might be pushing it.

According to sources of Marc J. Spears at Yahoo! Sports, the Thunder might not have to worry about that, though.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are hopeful that injured guard Russell Westbrook will return for Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat, a source said to Yahoo Sports.

The Thunder announced on Dec. 27 that Westbrook had surgery on his right knee for the second time since late October. He was projected to be out until after the NBA All-Star break without a specific return game. The source said Westbrook will be re-evaluated on Tuesday in Oklahoma City, which could open the door for a return against the visiting Heat.

If Westbrook had a target date to return after his knee  surgery, this wasn’t a bad game to choose. He’ll need to pass all his tests and get medically cleared, but you know a competitor like that is chomping at the bit to play against a team as great as the Heat. If he can go, I’d hate to see anyone try and stand in his way.

That being said, the Thunder would be wise to take things slow with Westbrook if at all possible. Two knee surgeries in such a short time span is no joke, and ultimately, this upcoming battle with the Heat doesn’t mean a great deal. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, even if Westbrook is the kind of guy who usually sprints the entire marathon.

In these situations, asking “what would Gregg Popovich do?” is never a bad idea. Westbrook will of course want to play as much as he possibly can, but Scott Brooks should and  likely will put a heavy minutes restrictions on him, at least initially. It’s a big game against the Heat, to be sure, but there should be many more big games awaiting the Thunder in the near future.

Phantom cam captures the best of the 2014 dunk contest (VIDEO)

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We all know that slow-motion makes everything much more dramatic and generally way cooler. It’s science.

That’s a good thing, because last night’s dunk contest was all sort of a weird blur.

Harrison Barnes attempted a layup (no, seriously) in the freestyle dunk period. Paul George did some cool stuff we couldn’t properly react to. I’m fairly sure Nelly dunked while babysitting, but I could be fuzzy on a few details.

Really though, the whole contest went by pretty fast since there was no second-round in this year’s new format, and since Ben McLemore took up most of the time being introduced.

Luckily, though, the NBA’s phantom cam was there to catch it all for us and weed out the premature coronations and doinked dunk attempts.

Here are a few different angles of “Dunker of the Night” John Wall’s reverse jam in glorious phantom cam, as well as the other best jams from the 2014 dunk contest.

Watch NBA players miss a ton of halfcourt shots…except for Stephen Curry (VIDEO)

Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors

All-Star Saturday night had its ups and downs.

The three-point contest started slow but ended with some nice drama when Bradley Beal pushed eventual winner Marco Belinelli to a shoot-off. This is the only consistently enjoyable event, and it didn’t fail once again.

As for the dunk contest? It was…interesting? The team format was a little clunky, the dunks themselves weren’t overly impressive and John Wall showed that making a dunk on your first try is the way to go. Why don’t players change the dunk if they miss on the first try, I’ll never know. It’s about the element of surprise as much as the execution.

All things told it was an enjoyable experience as per usual, even if some of the best moments so far have happened outside of the more ballyhooed events.

Like this, for example. Check out Stephen Curry drain not one, not two, but three halfcourt shots in a row as every other NBA player assaults the basket with misses. Maybe Curry should have taken a few steps back in the three-point competition.