OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony returned to play Tuesday when their Oklahoma City Thunder took on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Neither was on a minutes restriction.
The Thunder do not expect Wednesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies to present issues, either, even though it will be the second half of a back-to-back.
“We’ll play the game [with] normal rotations and normal minutes for those guys…But right now, those guys are fully cleared to play,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said before the Cavs game.
Westbrook and Anthony had missed the team’s two previous games with ankle sprains. Anthony sprained his right ankle during the first quarter of Feb. 6’s victory over the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook suffered a sprained left ankle during the same game but played through it that night.
Donovan had started veterans Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton in Anthony's and Westbrook's place.
• Shooting for the stars: Donovan stuck with 3-point specialist Alex Abrines as his starting shooting guard Tuesday. It was the second consecutive game Abrines has started. He scored 16 points and sank four 3-pointers during his first start, which came Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Donovan had started wing Josh Huestis during the previous two games, a loss to Los Angeles and a win over Golden State. He started rookie wing Terrance Ferguson during the five games before that.
Usual starting shooting guard Andre Roberson is out for the season with a knee injury.
• Not the coach: Warriors coach Steve Kerr shook up his bench when he allowed Warriors players to draw up plays and run huddles during Monday’s win over the Phoenix Suns. It’s led to a conversation in basketball circles: was it disrespectful for a coach to hand over coaching duties to players during an actual game that mattered?
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue did not say if it was or wasn’t. He did, however, clarify it’s a move he wouldn’t have done. And his logic was quite particular to the Cavaliers.
“My coaches were talking about it today. I wouldn't do that,” Lue said. “They already say LeBron is coaching the team anyway. If I give him the clipboard they're really going to say that, so nah, I wouldn't do that."
Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the postgame show, Thunder After Dark, and the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.