Min­utes so­lu­tion emerges for Steven Adams un­in­ten­tion­ally

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - Erik Horne ehorne@ oklahoman. com

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.”

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