With his team trailing by four points through three quarters Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he wasn't sure if he would stick to his original plan and sit his starters the entire fourth period.
Reserve shooting guard Daequan Cook and his fellow reserves didn't give Brooks a choice but to leave in the backups as OKC recorded a hard-fought 118-110 comeback victory over the sizzling Kings at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Cook erupted for 19 points, all in the fourth quarter, as the Thunder's second unit slammed the door by outscoring Sacramento 36-24 in the final period.
Cook shot 6 for 9 in the fourth quarter, burying 4 of 5 from 3-point range. The dagger came on a 3-pointer from the right corner with 44.9 seconds left to give the Thunder a 114-107 lead.
“I was in a great rhythm,” Cook explained afterward. “I felt pretty good out there. Guys were getting me looks and I was knocking them down.”
While the Kings stuck with their starting lineup until Cook's dagger, the Thunder countered with a lineup of Cook, Nick Collison, Derek Fisher, Cole Aldrich and Royal Ivey for the entire fourth quarter.
No Sacramento starter played fewer than 33½ minutes in the game and no OKC starter played more than 32½ minutes.
The difference-maker and tide-changer no doubt was Cook, who admitted he has been slow to recover from the mild right MCL sprain that caused him to miss six games starting on March 21.
Asked if he was 100-percent healthy, Cook said: “Not really. (I'm) still kind of going through the motions, but it's not affecting me in any way. I'm still getting treatment, still doing the things I need to do to get there, but it's not stopping me from playing.”
Exactly what percent is Cook health-wise?
“I couldn't tell you,” Cook said, before smiling and adding, “but after tonight I feel a little better.”
Aldrich, the Thunder's third-string center, normally is doing leg kicks from the bench whenever a teammate hits a 3-pointer. On this night, he was on the court to admire Cook's display up close.