Could Dakari Johnson give OKC a lift off the bench?
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.”
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.