Scotty Brooks brought back the B Team on Wednesday night.
You remember the B Team. An all-reserve unit that Foreman Scotty inserts to give his Thunder starters first-half rest. Brooks has deployed the B Team often in years past but seldom this season, with a new and thinner bench.
That might change after the Thunder routed the Denver Nuggets 117-97.
The B Team built upon a quick getaway by the starters, turning a 26-16 lead into a 41-22 runaway in the four minutes that ended the first quarter and started the second.
The sudden emergence of DeAndre Liggins as a rotational player — he's averaged almost 20 minutes the last five games, after playing just 34 minutes the first 34 games — has given Brooks a fivesome he is willing to play together.
“It's great,” said starter Thabo Sefolosha. “We've got a team with a lot of new guys. They're getting adjusted to what we're doing defensively and offensively.
“As the season goes along, we're going to be able to rely on those guys a lot more and give some of the main guys some rest.”
On a night when Russell Westbrook had 32 points in only 28 minutes, and Kevin Durant had 20 points on just 12 shots, and Serge Ibaka returned from a two-game layoff to block five Denver shots, the best development was the play of the Thunder bench.
The quintet of Kevin Martin, Nick Collison, Hasheem Thabeet, Reggie Jackson and Liggins scored on seven straight possessions and produced four straight defensive stops.
“That second unit played well when we needed it,” Brooks said. “Liggins, I'm proud of him. He made the team by fighting for everything he's earned. I'm proud he gets out there and competes and has been given some opportunities and has taken advantage of it.”
The bench numbers were impressive. Boomer backups scored 49 points and made 19 of 35 shots. Even taking out Martin's 8-of-12 shooting game, the Thunder reserves made 11 of 23.