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Report: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook could return to Thunder lineup next week

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) high fives teammate Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. Oklahoma City won 103-96. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)


When Kevin Durant suffered a foot fracture during the preseason, the timeline for his recovery was initially reported as being six to eight weeks.

When Russell Westbrook suffered a hand fracture in the second game of the season, the timetable for him to return was projected as being four to six weeks.

That time is finally up.

Both players were seen getting shots up as reporters were allowed into Friday’s shootaround, and are expected to take place in parts of Saturday’s practice -- with a return to the court to follow in the not-too-distant future.

From Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

Wearing a protective splint, Westbrook dribbled and shot with his surgically repaired right hand. Durant, meanwhile, rose off his surgically repaired right foot for a pair of easy dunks. ...

And the positive injury news didn’t stop there. Brooks also revealed that the two superstars will participate in parts of Thunder practice on Saturday afternoon — the first team work for either since their injuries.

“Probably not any of the contact stuff,” Brooks said. “(But) they will go through some of our practice and we’ll go from there.”

The two seem to be healing at an accelerated rate and a return by the end of next week – particularly for Westbrook – isn’t out of the question.

The Thunder are currently in last place in the Western Conference standings, five and a half games out of the playoffs. And, they’ve had the misfortune of playing 14 games already (the Clippers, for example, have just played 11), while their 11 losses are the most in the league thus far -- except for the 12 accumulated by the woeful 76ers.

Last season, 33 losses was the cutoff point for making the playoffs in the West. If that trend holds, the Thunder would need to finish the year by going 46-22 the rest of the way, which would mean winning at a 67.6 percent clip.

It’s not impossible given the talent on the roster, but it’s a daunting task to be sure.