On Saturday night in Minnesota, for the second time this season, Steven Adams came down with a right ankle sprain.
But also for the second time, Adams returned to action the next game, showing no ill effects during the Thunder's 119-96 win over the Celtics.
And in doing so, he only added to his growing reputation as a tough-nosed rookie center, playing through contact, injuries, drama and Vince Carter elbows.
“He's as tough as I've been around, any player,” Scott Brooks said. “Every day, he just plays. The elbows, the pushes, nothing phases him. All he cares about is eating a lot of food and playing basketball.”
In five minutes, Adams didn't have much of an impact. But his presence was a good sign for the Thunder.
BRAD STEVENS PRAISES KEVIN DURANT
Boston coach Brad Stevens has been around basketball a long time, but the first-year NBA coach had never faced Kevin Durant before Sunday.
“Obviously we've played against LeBron (James), we played against a lot of the elite players in the league,” Stevens said. “(Durant) can do things that I haven't seen very many people do, to be honest.”
Particularly, Stevens said Durant's ability to smoothly move around on offense, despite his wiry 6-foot-11 frame, separated him.
“What I've always said, watching him run off pindowns at his size and shoot the basketball is a nightmare because right when you get on top of it, he's gonna beat you backdoor and dunk it,” Stevens explained. “He's so much longer than the guy guarding him.”
EXTRA REST, ADDED BONUS
Because this one was decided so early, the Thunder was able to accomplish a pair of needed tasks: rest for its stars and playing time for the end of its bench.
Durant was only needed for 27 minutes, his lowest output since a blowout of Utah in late November.
And Hasheem Thabeet, OKC's third-string center who hasn't appeared in a game since mid-December, got five minutes. He even hit a midrange jumper.
“It's nice,” Brooks said. “I feel for Hash. He's done a great job all year. Comes to practice every day, stays after, gets there early. He's one of our biggest cheerleaders on the bench, always getting our guys spirits up … Unfortunately, there's not a lot of minutes for him right now.”
STAT OF THE GAME
Serge Ibaka — 17 points and 11 rebounds — compiled his 15th double-double of the season. He only had 15 all of last year.
OKC is immediately back on the road, traveling to Utah and Denver for Tuesday and Thursday night games. The Thunder has already won at both places this season.