Scott Brooks surprised another one of his players Wednesday night.
And again, one of his players pleasantly surprised Brooks.
Jeremy Lamb scored five points in five minutes in the Thunder's 100-92 win over the Hawks inside Philips Arena. But unlike most of Lamb's playing time this season, Wednesday's production came at a critical juncture.
Lamb, the 12th overall pick out of Connecticut, checked in for Kevin Durant with 3:11 left in the first quarter. Oklahoma City actually trailed 16-15 at that point. Brooks, however, trusted the rookie to come through.
“He's been working really hard,” said Brooks, who also played seldom used second-year guard Reggie Jackson unexpectedly a week ago against New Orleans.
“The thing about our team is we have a really good team and it's hard to get minutes. Guys just have to really be ready and when your number is called produce. And I thought he did a good job on the defensive end. We know that he can make shots. But defensively, he was playing physical and he wasn't allowing their post-up players to get good position. I liked his five minutes. They were solid.”
Lamb made two of three shots, including a 3-pointer. He got one rebound and one steal and didn't allow potent Hawks score Josh Smith a single point despite giving up 45 pounds as he was being posted up.
The last time Brooks played Lamb early in the game was at Detroit in the sixth game of the season. Let's just say it wasn't pretty. Lamb said he learned from that initial experience.
“I went in the game more focused, and I think I did a little better,” Lamb said. “My teammates were looking for me and really were cheering me on. I was excited for the opportunity and just tried to give all I could.”
Lamb has split time between the Thunder and Tulsa 66ers of the NBA D-League. With the 66ers, Lamb leads the team in scoring at 23 points per game with 4.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
KIA MOTORS PARTNERS WITH THE THUNDER
The Thunder announced Wednesday that it has entered a partnership with Kia Motors as the official automotive partner of the Thunder.
Kia will sponsor various team events, including the Kia Rewards Zone, which offers fans a game-night opportunity to win the final 50 pairs of tickets for every Thunder home game.
Additional displays throughout Chesapeake Energy Arena will be added, as well as promotions throughout the game. A Kia vehicle also will be displayed in the concourse.