An already bad Sacramento team came into Oklahoma City missing its best perimeter player. Then its best interior player got into foul trouble. Then the rest of its team proceeded to play one of the worst NBA games of the season.
So from a Thunder perspective, not much could be gleaned from the 94-81 beatdown OKC laid down on the Kings on Friday night – a misleading final score that was a 32-point cushion when Kevin Durant exited for the night.
But in a game void of any major developments, the Thunder at least got a minor one: Jeremy Lamb played a ton. And he played pretty well.
In all, Lamb played 33 minutes – his most since late January, when he played 35 during an impressive performance down in Miami – and he compiled 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“I thought he was good tonight,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “He was doing a good job defensively. Obviously he made some shots, but I liked his defensive toughness tonight.”
Lamb’s had far bigger games and much better games during what was a breakout start to his second season. But by NBA standards, he hadn’t had a one in a long time. And of late, he hadn’t had much of an opportunity, falling out of the rotation after struggling with his shot.
“That’s normal,” Russell Westbrook said. “Throughout the year, you’re going to have a two-week stretch where you’re going to have a slump, you’re not making any shots.”
But with Reggie Jackson missing Friday night’s game with a mild mid-back strain, Lamb was vaulted up the rotation ladder. And he responded.
During an extended run in the first half – when the game was still in question – Lamb provided a nice spark on both ends.
He had both of his steals in the first half, including a sneaky poke-away on a Reggie Evans post-up that led to an easy dunk on the other end.
“Did some things on the defensive end, got me some easy layups,” Lamb said. “(It helped me) get into a rhythm and knock down some shots.”
Lamb also flashed his ability to make plays for others, with three of his five assists coming during a crucial 11-0 run at the end of the first quarter.
Then, as the second quarter started, Lamb pushed that Thunder run to 16-1 with an in-rhythm 3-pointer and a nice dish to Nick Collison for a layup.
A 21-14 OKC lead had ballooned to 37-15. The game was essentially over and Lamb had his fingerprints everywhere.
“When coach trust me to go into the game and my teammates trust me out there, I just want to make them proud,” Lamb said.
But moving forward, the question shifts to Brooks and how often he will trust Lamb enough to put him out there.
“The minutes are going to come,” Brooks said. “Sometimes they’re not going to be as much as they’ve been in the past, but we just want him to keep working hard when he’s out there.”
Mission accomplished on Friday night.