Durant: Westbrook will face Heat

Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant said teammate Russell Westbrook will return to the Thunder lineup when the team takes on the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

"Next game right after the All-Star break, against Miami," Durant said of Westbrook's timetable in an interview with Grantland's Bill Simmons on Friday.

Westbrook has been sidelined since having his third knee surgery since April on Dec. 27.

Though the Thunder (43-12) have only had their starting point guard for 25 of their 55 games, Durant credited Westbrook for being a huge help while off the court.

"He did a great job as another coach on the bench for us as well," Durant said Friday.

In Westbrook's absence, Durant has become the league's leading MVP candidate. He has averaged career highs of 31.5 points and 5.5 assists per game while also chipping in 7.8 rebounds a night, and had a stretch of 12 straight games with at least 30 points scored.

Westbrook, who hasn't played since the Thunder's Christmas Day 123-94 win against the New York Knicks, has averaged 21.3 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game this season.