OKC Thunder: Bench contributed to Game 2 victory
Battle of the reserves will be important as NBA playoff series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.
That's all Derek Fisher needed to demonstrate he still has plenty left in the tank and, quite possibly, just might be as good as advertised in playoff basketball.
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In the Thunder's 102-99 victory over Dallas in Game 2, Fisher came off the bench and supplied a much-needed spark at all the right times. The 37-year-old point guard made 5 of 6 shots in 24 minutes, scored 11 points and was instrumental in helping the Thunder's second unit return the favor to the Mavs after their bench thoroughly outplayed OKC's reserves in Game 1.
“He's definitely going to be able to bring that game to game,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks of Fisher. “Some games he's going to make a bunch of shots, some games he's going to miss.”
We saw Monday how much better the Thunder can be when Fisher makes shots.
In the opening game of this series, Fisher went 0-for-3 in 15 minutes. With his shots not falling, the Thunder had few other scoring options. Fellow reserve guard Daequan Cook, the only other bench player to attempt a shot last Saturday, also missed all of his hoists. That left James Harden as the only reserve to score for the Thunder. As a result, OKC was outscored 39-19 in bench points in Game 1.
But thanks in large part to Fisher's contributions, the Thunder outscored the Mavs 32-28 in bench points Monday.
As the series shifts to Dallas for Games 3 and 4, the battle of the benches will now be as important as ever. The Thunder's reserves will have to replicate Game 2's effort, especially if Kevin Durant continues struggling with both his shot and Shawn Marion. But role players tend to play better at home, so it could be tough for the Thunder's reserves to reproduce two great nights inside American Airlines Center.
Dallas also has a more potent one-two punch in reserves Jason Terry and Vince Carter. The two combined for 33 points on 13-of-24 shooting in Game 1. Terry alone, with 20 points, outscored the entire Thunder bench. But in Game 2, the Thunder held them in check and limited the duo to 18 points on 7-of-21 shooting.
However, the Mavs ranked third in bench points in the regular season at 40.8 per game, while the Thunder ranked 17th at 31.5 per game.
“I think it can be pretty close,” Brooks said about the bench scoring in the rest of this series.
When the Thunder's bench got back to unselfish play Monday, the Mavs had no answer for its second unit.
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