Clippers get good news on Russell Westbrook before win over Portland

The Clippers expect Russell Westbrook to return at some point next week after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured left hand earlier this month.

Westbrook was cleared to play and could return as early as Monday night when the Clippers face the Indiana Pacers at Arena, a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly said.

Clippers coach Ty Lue wouldn’t give an exact timetable on Westbrook’s return. The veteran guard hasn’t played since March 1.

“Russ is doing well,” Lue said before the Clippers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 125-117 Friday night. “He’ll play sometime next week.”

If Westbrook doesn’t play Monday, he could make his return on the road — the Clippers play at Philadelphia on Wednesday and at Orlando on March 29.

Westbrook, one of the NBA’s top sixth men, has averaged 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 58 games this season. The Clippers are 6-5 since his injury.

The Clippers (44-25) are 7-5 in March as they continue to trek through a 17-game slate this month. They have already played three sets of back-to-back games during the stretch and still have one more set before the month ends.

“It’s just something that we have to play through,” Lue said. “It’s a good test for us, mentally and physically. So, we’re up for the challenge and we’re good.”

The Clippers are getting healthier. Terance Mann returned to the lineup Friday after sitting out one game because of a right shoulder strain.

With Westbrook’s anticipated return, all the Clippers need to be whole is for Norman Powell to return from a lower leg bruise that has kept him out the last three games.

But with Paul George cooking and Kawhi Leonard and Mann productive, the Clippers had a pretty easy time beating the Trail Blazers.

George had 31 points on 10-for-14 shooting and was four for eight on three-pointers, all in three quarters.

Leonard had 22 points on nine-for-15 shooting and Mann had 20 points on seven-for-12 shooting.

The Clippers’ bench, however, struggled late as Portland (19-51) went on 29-11 run to close the game. Scoot Henderson finished with 24 points and 10 assists for the Trail Blazers.

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