A reporter wanted to know following Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers how important Derek Fisher has been for the Thunder in late-game rotations this season.
The question seemed to catch Thunder coach Scott Brooks off guard. He responded by playfully asking if he's allowed to talk about Fisher anymore. Typically, Brooks doesn't need much prompting.
“You can't say enough good things about him,” Brooks said.
Through the Thunder's first 11 games, Fisher has been a pleasant surprise. The NBA's second oldest player has supplied quality minutes that belie his statistical production.
In each of the past three games, Fisher has been a fixture in the Thunder's fourth-quarter lineup, playing 34 of 36 minutes and providing pivotal perimeter defense.
After a 92-79 win at Milwaukee last Saturday, Brooks called Fisher the game's unsung hero. He played all 12 minutes in the final frame and helped to hold Bucks leading scorer O.J. Mayo to five points on 1-for-4 shooting.
“He didn't score a point, but he impacted the game,” Brooks said. “And I told the guys after the game, ‘That's a classic example of how you play. You play with your heart every possession and good things will happen.'”
Two nights later, Fisher again played the entire fourth quarter against Denver. And again, he didn't have a single made field goal. His only two points came on a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining. But his defensive effort helped limit the Nuggets to 6 of 21 shooting in the fourth quarter.
“In that fourth quarter, we really locked in and did a much better job,” Brooks said. “We played inspired basketball for one another, and I think Fish was a huge part of that. You just got to love guys that play with everything they have. You can't say enough about his effort. His effort turned that game around.”
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