By Randy Renner
A little lost in the excitement of another Thunder win last night was the sight of Kevin Durant wearing a sleeve or light brace on his right knee.
He was also seen putting some ice on that knee when he was sitting on the bench during breaks. It must not have been too serious because it didn’t appear to impact his performance as he scored 28 points and pulled down nine rebounds in OKC’s 114-98 win over Washington. He even went back into the game in the fourth quarter and played a little more than 36 minutes which is right on his average for the season.
Head coach Billy Donovan pleaded ignorance when asked about KD’s knee and why he was wearing the sleeve.
“I don’t know,” Donovan said, “You probably need to ask him.”
But Durant slipped out of the Thunder lockerroom while reporters were talking with Russell Westbrook so no one could ask him.
Knee sleeves, like the one Durant appeared to be wearing, are commonly used as preventative measures, especially when joints (like the knee) are put under great stress when someone spends a lot of time running and jumping.
Sleeves also add some compression which serves to increase blood flow through the knee area which can serve to reduce pain both during and after a stressful performance.
Hopefully it’s nothing to worry about but it is probably something to keep an eye on especially when that game at Golden State looming large on Saturday night.
Another Triple-Double For Russ
Westbrook finished the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds (which is an insane number for mere mortal point guards) and 11 assists. It’s his seventh triple-double this season and his 33rd double-double. Westbrook now has 26 triple-doubles for his career and his team is 22-4 in those games.
"It means that my teammates do a great job of getting open, creating lanes where I'm able to be effective, and I'm trying to find ways to get those guys the basketball and trying to play my game," he said.
Westbrook started the game posting up fellow All-Star point guard John Wall on three of the Thunder’s first four trips down the floor. Russ got a couple easy buckets and passed out to Durant for an open three (which missed) but still the message had been sent and it’s something Westbrook has been working on and getting “a lot better” at he believes.
“Every summer I work more and more on different reads and try to find ways to be more effective down there, not just to score but to create mismatches and pass the basketball as well,” something he accomplished last night.
Serge Shows Up Again
Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka has had a roller coaster of a season so far. Some nights he plays like an All-Star and some nights you have to double check the box score to make sure he played.
Last Friday against Houston he scored two points and grabbed just two rebounds, last Wednesday against Minnesota he had six points and four boards. But a week ago against the Knicks he had 12 points and 17 rebounds and last night against Washington he had another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
“He did a great job of being active,” Westbrook said. “He gave us a lot of second chance points, kept balls alive, just did a great job of using his energy.”
It was something Donovan noticed too.
“Serge was great tonight. He was active at the rim with a couple of blocks and I thought it was just an overall great game from him at both ends of the floor.”
Cam Payne Back In Action
Rookie backup point guard Cameron Payne got back in the lineup last night after missing two-and-a-half games with concussion symptoms.
Payne said he felt great being back out there and again seemed to bring a spark to the second unit. He ended up with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in almost 13 minutes on the floor.
The Thunder will practice today in preparation for the Orlando Magic, a team they haven’t seen since the first week of the season. Remember that was the game that took three overtimes to decide with the Thunder winning 139-136.
OKC goes into that game on a big time roll having won 11 of the last 12 and 26 of the last 31.