Second Team Shows Up Big In Stars Absence.
By: Addam Francisco
Our Thunder were back in a position they've been in so many times this year... They played the now 16-42 Lakers without All-Star game MVP Russell Westbrook and reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant. Westbrook underwent a surgical procedure on a fracture to his zygomatic arch bone in his face Saturday after his own teammate Andre Roberson kneed him after a rebound attempt.
This surgery isn't major and if this was a playoff game, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he would've played him, but since they faced the Lakers that are 15th in the Western Conference with virtually nothing to play for, resting Westbrook was the smartest decision to avoid another freak injury from happening.
Where does this win put our Thunder? Well going into today's game I was a little skeptical about resting the leagues hottest, and in my opinion, best point guard, because they only had a half-game lead over the New Orleans Pelicans for the final playoff spot. However, after Sunday nights victory the Thunder expanded that to a one-game lead. I didn't initially like the decision before the game, but seeing way the second team played, I am happy the adjustments were made.
Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter both had double-doubles, combining for 34 points, 29 rebounds and 12 of 27 shooting. D.J. Augustin finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists and Jeremy Lamb had an unexpected 14 points off 5 of 8 shooting. This was really good floor experience for Jeremy and reminded me of what he did back at the University of Connecticut. This gives Thunder head coach Brooks something to look at moving forward. They already have possibly the deepest bench in the NBA, but could it be deeper? If they incorporate Lamb and possibly Perry Jones in the rotation, the Oklahoma City Thunder would be the only team to play everyone on the active roster.
Scoring has never been a problem for our Thunder and it wasn't tonight after a 108-101 win and five players scoring double-figures, along with everyone that played scoring with the exception of Mitch McGary and Jones. This is something to look forward to going into the final stretch of a season and after today, a sigh of relief for our loyal fans.