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OKC Thunder: Could Perry Jones help slow down the Spurs?

COMMENTARY — Second-year forward was effective in a regular-season matchup against LeBron James and the Heat. Could he be the same player in the Western Conference Finals?
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 20, 2014


photo -  
                 OKC's Perry Jones, left, defends Houston's Dwight Howard during a game earlier this season. With starter Serge Ibaka out, Jones could be called upon to provide a defensive boost against San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals. 
                   
                 
                 
                   Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
OKC's Perry Jones, left, defends Houston's Dwight Howard during a game earlier this season. With starter Serge Ibaka out, Jones could be called upon to provide a defensive boost against San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

And if you think the Heat is aging, check out the Spurs.

Jones turned the tide against the Heat. Why couldn’t he do the same against the Spurs?

I’m not saying he’s some sort of defensive savant. But he’s 6-foot-11. He’s got a 7-foot-plus wing span. He’s agile. He’s lively. Could he struggle some with the Spurs’ pick-and-roll offense? Sure. But could it be much worse than what we saw much of Monday night?

Jones, for one, feels like he could have an impact in this series.

“I always feel like that,” he told me after practice Tuesday. “As a basketball player, I always feel I can do something to help out the team. All I can do is stay ready, and hopefully when my name gets called, if it does and the opportunity presents itself, I’ll try the best I can.”

When the Heat came to Oklahoma City, Jones played less than he had in Miami. He didn’t have as much success against LeBron, but that was Russell Westbrook’s first game back after his midseason knee surgery, so everything was a bit out of whack. But Jones wasn’t all bad. He scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, nailed the lone 3-pointer that he attempted and grabbed five rebounds.

He’s good enough offensively to make defenses keep an eye on him. He can run the floor and help the Thunder try to push the tempo. He can stress the Spurs’ defense and help spread it out to open things a bit more for Durant and Westbrook.

Listen, I’m not suggesting that Jones is a superhero hiding in plain sight, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to give him a shot.

Brooks hasn’t ruled out the possibility that Jones could play more as this series continues.

“He’s definitely activated,” the coach said, “and he has an opportunity to step in there.”

Two years ago when Oklahoma City and San Antonio met in the Western Conference Finals, another defensive switch flipped the series. Brooks decided to take Russell Westbrook off Tony Parker and put Thabo Sefolosha on the Spurs’ speedy point guard.

Sefolosha changed the series.

So could Jones.

He isn’t a savior. But he might just be a series changer. And right now, that’s what the Thunder needs most.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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