Why Westbrook is playing back-to-back for first time this season


The Wizards will have Russell Westbrook available for the second game of a back-to-back on Monday night for the first time this season, as they get set to take on the Houston Rockets, the team that traded him to Washington.

Westbrook had previously sat out the second leg of a back-to-back six times this season, and followed a similar plan last year in Houston. So, what changed?

"He feels great," head coach Scott Brooks said. "His body is feeling much better. He has continued to trend in the right direction and that’s good news for all of us."

Brooks said Westbrook not resting for this particular game has "nothing to do with the match-up." In other words, the fact he all of a sudden can play in back-to-backs is not about seeking revenge against his former team.

Brooks said Westbrook nearly played on Feb. 8 against the Bulls, in their last back-to-back. If Westbrook was close then, and ready now, that would suggest he can play in more back-to-backs moving forward.

Brooks, though, said he isn't sure that will be the case.

"He wants to play, but we’ve gotta be smart," Brooks said.

Westbrook, 32, is averaging 19.5 points, 9.1 assists and 9.0 rebounds per game. The Wizards are 3-13 when Westbrook plays this season, but 4-3 when he is out of the lineup.