NBA

Coronavirus: Westbrook cleared for Rockets practice after COVID-19 diagnosis

By Sports Desk July 22, 2020

Houston Rockets star guard Russell Westbrook was on Wednesday cleared to practice for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19.

Westbrook arrived at the NBA bubble near Orlando, Florida on Monday following two negative tests after announcing last week he had contracted the virus. 

"First of all, I'm just thankful and blessed to be able to go out and compete again," the 2017 MVP said while wearing a mask before Wednesday's practice.

"But, just quarantining at home, trying to be productive, obviously not able to get on the basketball floor, but finding ways to kind of stay active and do as much conditioning as I can probably do as far as that." 

Westbrook said he was in good shape before needing to quarantine, and his only symptom was a stuffy nose. 

Although he was able to still do some exercise while self-isolating, the nine-time All-Star urged everyone to take the proper safety precautions to protect themselves against the virus. 

"I'm not a doctor nor a specialist, but I do know that it's definitely something to take very seriously," he said. "To understand that wearing a mask can be [the difference] between life or death honestly ... there are people dying from this virus each and every day and it's something that we all need to take very, very seriously." 

In his first season with Houston after arriving from the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 31-year-old Westbrook was averaging 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists prior the league being halted. 

The Rockets will resume their season against the Dallas Mavericks on July 31 and play their first exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. 

It is possible Westbrook could play in the first scrimmage if he and the team's medical staff determine he is healthy enough. 

Shaking off the rust, however, is Westbrook's top priority at the moment. 

"I have to see if I can make a layup at this point," he joked. "I got to start there and work my way from there."

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    The Lakers fell to a 114-104 home loss against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, despite 38 points from James, who was an impressive 16-for-24 from the field.

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    With Anthony Davis already ruled out, Kyle Kuzma and Marc Gasol missed out against the Suns.

    "We play so well the last two games, we get back into a rhythm, and then we find out [on the day of the game] that two of our big guns were out," James said after the game, per ESPN.

    "It is definitely deflating, especially when you were playing poorly [losing four in a row] and then you get in a good rhythm [with two wins]."

    Missing time will not sit well with James, who last month insisted he did not believe in rest amid calls for him to be given a breather to cope with a gruelling schedule.

    Despite their recent struggles, the Lakers are third in the Western Conference at 24-12, just behind the Suns (23-11).

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    "Our guys are giving great effort and great hustle and great fight. You understand there is a big picture here, and guys are keeping the big-picture mindset."

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    Houston Rockets - John Wall

    Even with Harden's numbers declining at the start of 2020-21, no Houston player has been able to match the 24.8 points he scored on average across those eight games.

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    Wall is not alone in being asked to do some heavy lifting, as Harden, the third man signed to the 'big three', has operated without either Irving or Durant due to injuries at times in the early stages of his Brooklyn career.

    He has done so admirably, however, averaging 25.3 points, 11.3 assists and 8.7 rebounds since leaving the Rockets.

    With Irving returning following a back issue against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Harden scaled new heights, becoming the first player to post 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a game without a single turnover since individual turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78.

    It was his seventh triple-double of the season already, a mark he only once passed in Houston colours (22 in 2016-17).
     

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