To celebrate the birthday of Thunder mascot “Rumble,” six NBA mascots were on hand for Friday night's 127-111 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Among them was Denver Nuggets mascot “Rocky.”
Rocky and Thunder three-time All-Star Russell Westbrook became a sideshow during the Jan. 20 game in Denver, where Westbrook blocked two of Rocky's half-court shots directly in front of the rim and the crowd at Pepsi Center roared its disapproval.
Roughly 75 minutes before tipoff, Westbrook was informed Rocky would be in the building.
Q: Are you going to apologize or have more fun with him?
Westbrook: “What (do) you think?”
Q: More fun with him.
Westbrook: “Then that's what you got, brother.”
Alas, there were no incidents. It appeared the two combatants didn't even look at each other.
Newly acquired Thunder guard/forward Ronnie Brewer was not activated for Friday's game, but is expected to be cleared to practice with the team for the first time on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Brewer, who was acquired from New York on Thursday, will wear jersey No. 8 with OKC. He previously wore No. 9 with Utah and Memphis and No. 11 with Chicago and New York. OKC's jersey No. 9 is worn by Serge Ibaka and No. 11 is worn by Jeremy Lamb.
Minnesota coach Rick Adelman coached Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin at Sacramento and Houston and was asked to share his favorite memory of Martin.
“He probably doesn't want me to mention it, but it was his first year (2004-05),” Adelman recalled. “We went to the playoffs, but didn't put him on the playoff roster. He became (Seattle's) Ray Allen in practice and all the sudden we were having all kinds of problems guarding him. He was just like Ray Allen.
“He had an unbelievable practice session and I think it kind of showed us what he could do and it also kind of helped him not being on the playoff roster. You've got to give him credit. From that year, he developed into such a great players as far as getting to the foul line. He really figured out how to play and how to be effective. That's what amazed me the most. He's lights-out compared to when he started.”
Martin smiled when told the story that Adelman shared.
“It was just me being young,” Martin said. “I didn't even realize what being left off the playoff roster meant. I thought I was still part of the team and now you're telling me to be Ray Allen. He said that's when he saw something in me.”
What did Martin do to master his role as Allen?
“Shoot it,” Martin said. “Come off pin-downs and shoot it. It didn't help because I think he averaged 35 points that series.”
The Kings lost the opening-round series 4-1 to the SuperSonics and Allen averaged 32.4 points.
Martin had 19 points (7 for 11 from the field; 2 for 4 from 3-point range) in 25 minutes before fouling out against the Timberwolves on Friday night.
OKC shot a ridiculous 57.8 percent from the field, 64.3 percent from 3-point range and 100 percent (22 for 22) from the free-throw line.
The Thunder also shot 100 percent at the line while going 22 for 22 against Sacramento on Dec. 14.
OKC is now 19-1 when shooting 50-plus percent from the field.
Up next for OKC are the Chicago Bulls at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, and the Bulls won 105-75 at Charlotte on Friday night. … The Thunder led 100-83 after three quarters, marking the first time this season OKC had reached triple-digits before the fourth quarter. … The Thunder never trailed and its biggest lead was 18. … OKC had 18 turnovers, which the Timberwolves turned into 26 points. … Minnesota's bench outscored the Thunder's bench 59-40.
Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison on the Thunder's sense of urgency riding a three-game losing streak: “There was some of that. We haven't been happy with how we've been playing, for sure. We know that the important thing is who we are tonight and how we're going to play tonight. It doesn't matter what happened the last three games. We have the ability to come out and play well tonight, and that's what we wanted to do.”