Strange night downtown on Wednesday. Kevin Durant, Nick Collison, Kevin Martin and Kendrick Perkins sat out the game. Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha each played 7-8 minutes. And so the Thunder lost to Milwaukee 95-89.
When I was a kid, OU football would have these great August scrimmages, usually on a Saturday evening. Open to the public. As many as 100-120 plays. The starters would play for awhile, then the scrubs. The Sooners had more players back then, so depth for such a scrimmage wasn’t much of an issue. You got to watch all these young guys play and get a feel for what they had.
Felt the same Wednesday night. Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher and Hasheem Thabeet were playing quite a bit, but otherwise, it was a bunch of guys that we never see, playing under the bright lights, against (mostly) solid competition. Here are my thoughts:
* For the first time, I saw a spark in Perry Jones. The rookie from Baylor hasn’t done much in his limited time, and he looks lost, frankly. Passive. But against the Bucks, Jones got with it. He played 38:45, scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Jones took only one foul shot, but part of that was the referees’ desire, along with the rest of us, to get the game over. Jones is not going to be a star. But he might have a future as a role player.
* I know everybody loves Jeremy Lamb. Everybody thinks he’ll be an impact player. But I haven’t seen it. Lamb played 41 minutes and shot 6-of-21 from the field. I know, anyone can have an off night shooting, and I’m willing to keep an open mind. I’m just saying, I haven’t seen what everyone’s excited about. Maybe he’s a poor man’s Steph Curry, but he’s going to have to show me.
* I’m starting to join arms with my man Darnell Mayberry, who is president of the DeAndre Liggins Fan Club. Liggins lost his limited playing time when the Thunder signed Fisher — even though they are completely opposite players — and I think the Thunder misses Liggins’ energy and defense. I’ve been harping on Scotty Brooks to play Ronnie Brewer, but heck, if Brooks doesn’t want to play Brewer, play Liggins. Liggins didn’t have huge numbers — 1-of-2 shooting in 17 minutes, two rebounds, one steal, one turnovers — but he guards with energy and brings an attitude to the court.
* Daniel Orton is showing signs of life. I liked his aggression. Orton had 20 percent of the fouls in the game. Both teams combined. Twenty-five fouls, Orton had five in 21 minutes. Some say he’s the Thunder’s best big-man finisher, but I don’t buy that. He’s better than Perk with the ball at the basket. That’s as far as I’ll go.
* Thabeet is fun to watch. He’s a helpful ballplayer. That’s not what you expect out of a guy once picked No. 2 overall in the draft, but Thabeet never forced anyone to pick him second, unless you count growing to 7-foot-3. Thabeet had eight rebounds and was 2-of-2, in 201/2 minutes. He’s a solid backup center.
* I say this with all due respect, as someone who wants Brewer to play more and thinks his defense would be a playoff boon to the Thunder. Brewer might be the worst shooter in the league. I mean that. Another air ball. A layup so out of sync that he tried to miss it on the right side and ended up missing it on the left. Brewer made a 15-foot bank shot, and I swear, I can’t believe he was trying to hit the backboard. No way.
* Reggie Jackson is a ballplayer, but I guess everyone already knew that.