Minutes solution emerges for Steven Adams unintentionally
MEMPHIS, TENN. — Russell Westbrook and Paul George are headed to the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. They’ll do so among the league leaders in minutes.
With 2,062 minutes played, Westbrook finished the Thunder’s 121-114 win against Memphis sixth in the league in minutes played. George is eighth with 2,045. Westbrook was only 111 minutes behind league leader Andrew Wiggins, with Wiggins playing three more games. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said what’s most important about the minutes is helping players be efficient.
“I think it’s hard for any player to be efficient when they’re logging a lot of minutes,” Donovan said. “At some point, fatigue THUNDER becomes a factor.”
This was the case Tuesday when Steven Adams played 42 minutes and Donovan admitted it was probably three to four minutes too many for the 7-footer.
“We didn’t rebound the ball particularly well last night late,” Donovan said. “Nance hurt us, but he was probably a fresher body than Steven in fairness to Steven. That’s probably more on me in terms of maybe finding a way to get him rested.”
Adams received an unintentional breather Wednesday. Saddled with four fouls at 8:40 in the third quarter, Dakari Johnson received some run with the starters in Adams’ place. Adams was back to his standard, 31 minutes, on Wednesday in the Thunder’s 121-114 win.
Westbrook (37 minutes) and George (38) each exceeded their per game averages.
The schedule through 59 games hasn’t afforded the Thunder many days to rest. The Thunder has played 35 games on one day of rest, and 11 back-to-back games including Wednesday’s game in Memphis.
“I think with the way the schedule has gone, we’ve had some games where we’ve been able to maybe not play them as many minutes in games Like last night, they probably played some. But the biggest thing to me is how efficient they are, and are they playing fatigued.”
Ferguson steps up
Alex Abrines started at shooting guard for the third consecutive game, but was ruled out just 2:47 into the third quarter with a left hip contusion, according to the Thunder.
Abrines was 0-of-2 from the field on Wednesday.
Abrines entered the All-Star break shooting 37.1 percent from 3, but it’s the latest in a series of injuries that have kept the 24-yearold from staying on the floor consistently.
So, in Abrines’s place stepped Terrance Ferguson and the rookie stepped up to score eight points in nine fourth-quarter minutes, including two 3-pointers from the corner with the Grizzlies rallying.
“I thought Terrance, with Alex kind of being a little banged up there, came off the bench in the fourth quarter and gave us an incredible lift considering the fact that he hadn’t played for the first three quarters,” Donovan said. “To me, that’s a winning play. That’s a guy that’s been on the bench being ready to play.”
Stat of the night
17: The Thunder hit 17 3-pointers in the win, a new franchise record for 3-pointers in a game. The Thunder hit 16 Sunday at home against Memphis and January 2014 at Miami.
Donovan on what he’ll do during the break: “I won’t get away too much. I’ll be in Oklahoma. I’ll watch a lot of tape. I’ll try to figure out different things that we can add. I think we’ve got a unique back end of the schedule from the standpoint that 22 or 23 games remaining and we have a couple of stints where we have three days in between games or two days. There are some things I think we can add, we can kind of fine tune and get better at. Certainly, I think the middle of January, coming into the beginning of February was a tough stretch for us with the number of games we played in a short period of time, a lot of different time zones, back to back, dealing with Andre’s injury and having to deal with Russell and Carmelo’s injury. So, these next five days I’ll try to work to help the group get better.”