Thunder coach Scott Brooks made a surprising substitution Saturday night against Atlanta when he opted to go with second-year center Cole Aldrich as the backup to starter Kendrick Perkins, who was plagued with foul trouble against the Hawks.
After Perkins picked up his third foul with 6:33 remaining in the second quarter, Brooks inserted Aldrich instead of bringing back customary backup Nazr Mohammed. In the second half, Aldrich also received the reserve minutes.
“Cole gives us energy,” Brooks said. “He's an energy guy that comes in and does his job. He's been working all year. That's his job, is also to be ready, and he was ready (Saturday night).”
Asked about the decision to play Aldrich over Mohammed, Brooks said it was a matter of Perkins' foul situation. Perkins picked up five fouls in 13 minutes and eventually fouled out in 16 minutes. But Brooks also was noncommittal about which direction he will go from here with the team's backup center minutes.
“I don't know what I'm going to do next game,” Brooks said. “They both are professionals. They both prepare to play. We'll see.”
Aldrich said Brooks hasn't told him anything regarding his role. Aldrich said his job is just to stay ready.
“That's the biggest thing,” Aldrich said. “You've got to prepare yourself every game like you're going to get in, and if you don't, you just got to keep on preparing yourself.”
Aldrich made an impact during his 14 minutes, 28 seconds. He scored six points with a career-high seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
“I think that's my job, just to come in whenever my name is called and go in and give the energy and rebound like I did,” Aldrich said.
Forward Nick Collison was impressed and said fans have yet to really see what Aldrich has to offer.
“Cole played well,” Collison said. “He's done well this year when he's got the chance. He's an NBA rotation player. He just hasn't gotten a chance to show it yet. But he's going to be good for us.”
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