Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook underwent right knee surgery on Friday and is expected to be out through the All-Star break, a development that could shake up the Western Conference. Then again, it might not.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman pointed to the Thunder's 23-5 record heading into the weekend — and at who is replacing Westbrook — and said Oklahoma City can handle the loss.
Reggie Jackson, who is averaging 12.5 points a game, will replace Westbrook in the lineup as long as needed.
"Well, they've put up a pretty big cushion, so I think they are going to be fine,'' Adelman said. "They have been through it already in training camp and everything else. I think they will be able to adjust because the guy they are putting in there in [Westbrook's] place has turned into maybe the sixth man of the year. I mean, he has really turned into a good player.
"I think it's going to hurt them some, but they are in the upper echelon — one of the top two or three teams — so I think they will be able to maintain. But that's a big loss. [Westbrook] is a heck of a player.''
Easy with Budinger
Westbrook and Chase Budinger each had surgery on Oct. 1. Westbrook returned in just over a month.
Budinger didn't appear at his locker before Friday's game, but he appears to be getting closer to returning to action after having his left knee scoped. After being limited to 23 games because of knee surgery last season, he is just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Adelman said before Friday's game that he thinks Budinger has a good chance to go the distance once he returns from his most recent surgery.
"He's being cautious,'' Adelman said of Budinger. "He's been through it once before, so I think he knows that. He's been feeling good. His knee has felt good in practice, when he's practiced. But he's going through training camp so the rest of his body aches and his feet hurt and everything. He's just going through that phase where he hadn't had that yet.
"So we will just have to wait and see. The medical people will tell me when they think he is ready to go and then we will go from there.''
Pub for Love
Wizards guard John Wall said what a lot of people have said about Wolves forward Kevin Love this season.
"I think he and LaMarcus Aldridge are the two best power forwards in the league, neck and neck,'' Wall said.
But Wall had an inkling that Love was on the verge of blasting off from an injury-plagued 2012-13 season.
"I worked with him a couple times this offseason,'' Wall said. "We use the same trainer, so I saw him put in the work. Once he lost some weight, he started to jump better and move better. It's doing nothing but help his game.''
•The Wolves held a moment of silence before the game for Marv Wolfenson, one of the franchise's original owners. He died last Saturday at age 87.