Thunder B Team gets an A-plus from coach Scott Brooks
The second unit built upon a quick getaway by the starters, turning a 26-16 lead into a 41-22 runaway in the four minutes that ended the first quarter and started the second.
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Even Perry Jones III played well. The rookie from Baylor played the final 131/2 minutes and had six points and three rebounds.
“Those guys are young and still developing,” Brooks said of Liggins, Jones, Jackson and Jeremy Lamb, all of whom have spent time in the Development League this season. “They have to develop in the D-League and in our practices. It's nice to see them get some minutes.”
Thunder backups' struggles this season shouldn't come as a surprise. While the OKC starters have remained steadfast, the bench was dismantled. Only Collison remains from the B Team of last spring. James Harden, Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Daequan Cook all are gone.
Eric Maynor has yet to regain the level of play he established before his January 2012 knee injury.
Thus Durant's and Westbrook's minutes have risen. Durant is averaging 39.4 minutes a game, second in the NBA. Westbrook is averaging a career high 36.1. Both can handle that kind of load, but it's better if they don't have to.
“Our starting five, they need a little break every now and then.” Jackson said. “Can't ride ‘em the whole time.”
The Thunder didn't need to ride Durant and Westbrook the whole time against the Nuggets. The B Team was back.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.