By Randy Renner
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks is a happy camper tonight. "The Five," are back on the court for the Thunder for just the third time since Christmas and the 22nd time this entire season.
“It feels good to have all our guys back," Brooks said just before the game. "As far as how many minutes they all play, I don’t know, I just know it’s important to have them back.”
Center Kendrick Perkins said today he thinks it's important the starters play together as often as possible leading up to the playoffs. “I mean we’ve only played in what, 21 games? So yeah it’s very important. We all need to get back on the court together and remember what each guy brings to the table.”
The Thunder starting five is 18-3 in those 21 games.
The Pelicans have not withstood injuries as well as the Thunder have. Tonight New Orleans will be without star center Anthony Davis who has been shut down for the rest of the season because of back spasms. Guard Eric Gordon has been out with a knee injury and will have surgery next week. Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith are also out.
“It’s unfortunate we’ve had to go through all this (injury) stuff,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said before the game. “Hopefully we’ll get to go through all 82 games with everybody and see what we really have.” Williams also said he plans to start Austin Rivers at point guard, “he gives us a little more size (6-5) going up against (Russell) Westbrook.”
The Pelicans have lost six straight games and four straight on the road. The Thunder have knocked them off in nine straight games and in 13 of the last 14 they’ve played.
The Thunder are very close to finishing with the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs. A win tonight will reduce their magic number over the third place Clippers to 1. Each team will have three games left to play. If the Spurs beat Phoenix tonight San Antonio wraps up the top seed and eliminates the small chance OKC had of catching up.
Tipoff is set for 7:10, you can see the game on Fox Sports Oklahoma.