LOS ANGELES -- The only consolation for the Oklahoma City Thunder can be found in the schedule. There's no estimate yet on the amount of time Russell Westbrook will miss because of the broken bone in his right hand he suffered Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, but multiple weeks is a safe guess, so he'll be joining the already-injured Kevin Durant on the sidelines.
Fortunately for the Thunder, their next 18 games include both of their cross-conference meetings with the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons, plus two games against the Utah Jazz and single games against the Sacramento Kings, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. None of these teams is a lock for the playoffs. Then again, maybe we should say the same thing about the Thunder if they'll have to spend a significant stretch vying for one of the eight Western Conference playoff spots without Westbrook and Durant.
The West is too competitive for the Thunder to have any margin for error. They're already 0-2. There's an instant urgency of the type normally found in the NFL.
The thought was Westbrook could keep them afloat while Durant took a month or so to recover from surgery for a broken bone in his right foot. It even figured to be as entertaining as Westbrook's 38-point outburst in a loss in Portland on opening night. Just get in the playoffs and try to make a run. It worked for the San Francisco Giants, right?
With no Westbrook? Well, let's just hear it from Sebastian Telfair, the guy who figures to get the most additional court time in Westbrook's absence.
"I need that guy in a uniform," Telfair said. "I would love to be out there playing whatever minutes, but we need that guy to be out there with us."
That's real talk. Telfair also made the comparison to the San Antonio Spurs, who used the absences both planned and unexpected of key players during the regular season to get backups the experience that helped them thrash the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. But deep down, Telfair knows what's up.
Westbrook and Durant provided 55 percent of the Thunder's scoring during the 2014 playoffs. They're as potent a duo as there is in the NBA today. And now they're both out of uniform.
Oklahoma City might get Reggie Jackson back this weekend after he missed the first two games of the season with a sprained ankle. They don't hold the same optimism for Jeremy Lamb (lower back sprain) or Anthony Morrow (MCL sprain).
How much more do the reserves have in reserve? They put up a good fight against the Clippers on Thursday, overcoming 27 turnovers and the weariness of the second game of a back-to-back to fight the Clippers all the way down to the last shot in a 93-90 loss at Staples Center.
Telfair felt a little winded Thursday near the end of his 38-minute stint, much longer than he was expected to play in any game this season. To top it off, he's still learning the Thunder's offense, which is unlike any he's run during his other nine stops in the NBA.
Because the Thunder have so many players out with long-term injuries, they can apply for an extra roster spot. Perhaps two. But they can't get another Westbrook or Durant.