Rockets Playoff Chances Improve

Russell Westbrook is out for the playoffs: Rockets suddenly have a puncher's chance thanks to torn knee

Westbrook out for the playoffs; Rockets suddenly have a chance

Russell Westbrook dunk
Russell Westbrook is out for the playoffs with a torn knee.

Russell Westbrook — the fearless guard who has tormented the Houston Rockets for two straight playoff games — will not be around to inflict any more damage.

That's apparently because of the damage Rockets guard Patrick Beverley did to the Oklahoma City Thunder's lifeline star on the infamous timeout knee bump the other night. The Thunder have revealed that Westbrook needs surgery on a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. That certainly puts him out for the rest of this series and most likely the whole rest of the playoffs.

Suddenly, even down 0-2, the Rockets have a puncher's chance.

That is how important Westbrook is to the Thunder. They can forget about getting to the NBA Finals again without their dynamic point guard. While no official timetable has been set, Westbrook would have to pull off a Metta World Peace type miracle comeback to even be back in time for the Western Conference Finals. Peace came back from knee surgery in only 12 days.

Of course, the Thunder cannot worry about the future at the moment. They might even have to scratch and crawl to get past the eighth seeded Rockets now, even with Kevin Durant and a huge series lead.

Westbrook had never missed a game in his NBA career or his college playing days at UCLA. He didn't even take a play off in Game 2 Wednesday night after taking a hard shot from Beverley to the knee after he motioned for a timeout. He went on to score 29 points. But what TNT analyst Charles Barkley ripped into as a "cheap play" on Beverley's part will apparently have more far reaching implications than anyone imagined.

Jeremy Lin — who left Game 2 with a chest bruise — is expected to play in Saturday night's Game 3 at Toyota Center. Westbrook — who stayed in and played on — will not be playing again for a long time.