Could Dakari John­son give OKC a lift off the bench?

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - Brett Daw­son bdaw­son@ ok­la­homan.com

Dakari John­son was hav­ing a mo­ment.

He’d just buried a midrange jumper at a key mo­ment late in the Thunder’s 120-111 win against the Clip­pers on Fri­day night, and after an L.A. time­out, he headed back up the court blow­ing kisses, then jumped into a cel­e­bra­tory bump with point guard Ray­mond Fel­ton. John­son was feel­ing it. “His swag is at a all-time high,” team­mate Paul Ge­orge said later.

The ques­tion is whether John­son’s mo­ment – nine points in 23 min­utes as a fillin starter for in­jured cen­ter

Steven Adams – could be more than that.

Adams is listed as out for Sun­day’s game against Dal­las with a right calf con­tu­sion, though that’s sub­ject to change. When­ever John­son re­turns to the bench, is Fri­day’s break­out a sign that he could con­trib­ute com­ing off it?

Against the Clip­pers, the rookie was thrown into an im­por­tant role in his first mean­ing­ful NBA min­utes, con­tend­ing with cen­ter

DeAn­dre Jor­dan, the NBA’s lead­ing re­bounder.

And Thunder coach Billy Dono­van said the game “definitely” gives him faith he could play John­son when he’s in need of a backup big man.

But Dono­van said that he’s “al­ways had con­fi­dence” in John­son, and that the rookie’s lack of play­ing time prior to Fri­day was less about his own skills than about find­ing ro­ta­tion min­utes for Pa­trick Pat­ter­son and Jerami Grant.

“And I think go­ing for­ward it’s some­thing huge for us,” Ge­orge said. “When we don’t have Steven on the floor, to rely on Dakari to step in and just give Steven a break and a breather at times, I think that’s all Coach is look­ing for.”

Melo helps OKC fam­i­lies

His trade­mark hood pulled up to pro­tect against the brisk, breezy af­ter­noon, Carmelo An­thony on Satur­day stood in the park­ing lot at the Feed the Chil­dren build­ing on North Merid­ian and went to work.

As cars drove through at An­thony's No Hunger Hol­i­days event,

An­thony, Thunder gen­eral man­ager Sam Presti and a host of vol­un­teers loaded them with boxes of food, books, toys, toi­letries and more for fam­i­lies in need.

The give­away is part of a larger Feed The Chil­dren ini­tia­tive that hopes to feed 10,000 peo­ple across Ok­la­homa this hol­i­day sea­son.

The Carmelo An­thony Foun­da­tion has worked with Feed the Chil­dren, for “al­most 10 years,” An­thony said.

“I al­ways wanted some­body to come back to my com­mu­nity, give back to my com­mu­nity when I was younger but that wasn’t the case,” An­thony said. “So now I’m in a sit­u­a­tion that I’m suc­cess­ful, I’m blessed, that I can give back to these com­mu­ni­ties and touch these com­mu­ni­ties ev­ery­where that I go.”

More fines for Ge­orge?

Last week, Ge­orge was fined $15,000 for cri­ticism of of­fi­cials after the Thunder’s loss at Port­land. On Fri­day, he showed a will­ing­ness to keep speak­ing his mind.

Asked about his thirdquar­ter tech­ni­cal foul against the Clip­pers, Ge­orge said he’d taken is­sue with of­fi­cial Court­ney Kirk­land’s no-calls on Ge­orge’s jump shot.

“I said ‘Come on, Court­ney,’ and I got T’d up for it,” Ge­orge said.

“It was an ob­vi­ous foul. I got fouled two times in a row on a jump shot, and he said, ‘Don’t stand me up.’ He made the game about him at that point. I didn’t get that tech.”

[PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Dakari John­son, right, cel­e­brates his fourth-quar­ter jumper Fri­day night against the Clip­pers. John­son had nine points in his first NBA start, fill­ing in for in­jured cen­ter Steven Adams.

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