Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) react after Westbrook's three pointer to seal the 115-104 win over Phonenix during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
“It's not about stats with me,” Ivey said. “Straight energy. I can affect the game without scoring. The shots didn't go down. But I'm not worried about when my shots go down. When my shots go down, it's extra. I'm worried about wins and losses and winning. If I can contribute in that kind of way, I'm happy.”
Ivey had to be pretty special to overshadow the Thunder's quartet that did put up some staggering stats.
Westbrook (game-high 31 points, 10 assists), Kevin Durant (30 points) and James Harden (30 points) each had at least 30 points, while Serge Ibaka (18 points, career-high 20 rebounds and three blocks) came one bucket shy of his first 20-20 game.
“Whatever I can bring to the team, whatever they ask me to do, I'm here,” Ivey said.
Over the past three weeks, Ivey has been the ideal stopgap. After playing a total of 27 minutes in the team's first 28 games, Ivey has now made the most of the emergency duty for which he's been relied upon. He's averaged just 3.4 points in 14.4 minutes over his past 11 games. But he's proven himself capable of supplying timely shots and stout defense, using both at one point or another to steady the ship in the face of injuries.
“Royal does a great job of always playing with the same energy,” said Westbrook. “Regardless of if he's playing 30 seconds or two minutes, he's done a great job for us of coming in while Thabo's out and picking it up defensively.”
Ivey said he prepared himself for this position by staying in shape and maintaining a positive attitude. By continuing to cram in workout sessions on the practice court and in pre-game with Lazar Hayward and assistant coach Maz Trakh.
“That's all you can do,” Ivey said. “You can't mope and sigh about not playing. You've just got to stay ready. That's what the league is about, just staying ready and staying consistent.”