Westbrook happy to be back sooner than expected

OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook smiled and thanked his friends and family.

He’s just happy to be back.

Sooner than expected, but not soon enough for the Thunder, Westbrook will make his season debut tonight against Phoenix. It will be the first time he has played since game two of the first round of the playoffs last year when he suffered a meniscus tear.

“I feel great,” Westbrook said about an hour before Sunday’s game against Phoenix. “Im happy and blessed to play basketball again. It was a tough experience but I’m happy to be back.”

The Thunder are 1-1 this year. Westbrook will start. Coach Scott Brooks said there will be no restrictions on any minutes Westbrook might play.

“It wasn’t until after yesterday’s practice that we made the decision,” Brooks said. “We’re a better team now. We’re all excited to have him back.”