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Rockets’ Russell Westbrook will skip 1 game of back-to-backs the rest of the season

Russell Westbrook, Rockets

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook has been ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the second night of a back-to-back after the Rockets beat the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

According to head coach Mike D’Antoni, Westbrook will skip at least one game of back-to-backs for the rest of the season as the Rockets buy into load management:

This is not much of a surprise. The Rockets have sat Russell Westbrook with the “rest” designation a few times during the course of the season, and general manager Daryl Morey stated back in July that the team would be cautious with both Westbrook and James Harden.

Via Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report:

Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show (h/t Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic), Morey noted the importance of ensuring both players are healthy and fresh come playoff time: “Yeah, it always is [part of the strategy]. We try not to label it. … Yeah, it’ll be a very put together plan by our staff throughout the season to have our guys peak in April.”

Russell Westbrook has still managed to play in 29 of Houston’s 32 games, while Harden has yet to miss a game, though he is questionable ahead of Sunday night’s matchup.

The former MVP is averaging 24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists in his first year with the Rockets, but he is also shooting just over 23 percent from beyond the arc on 5.0 attempts per game.

Houston is currently 22-10 this season, which is good for third in the Western Conference. The Rockets are half a game behind the second-seeded Denver Nuggets and three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers.

Of course, Houston’s success ultimately hinges on the superstar duo. The Rockets are tired of early playoff exits, and they will hope to keep Russell Westbrook fresh as they dream of a deeper playoff run.