Group effort needed to make up for loss of Roberson

(Photo by Torrey Purvey)

By Michael Kinney

OKLAHOMA CITY- Andre Roberson is not considered an elite player in the NBA. He has never made an all-star game and for all intensive purposes, plays on one side of the ball.

Despite that, Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan was adamant, Roberson is not the type of player that can be replaced.

“You don’t replace him,” Donovan said Sunday. “It’s no different than having a guy that gets 25 points a game and goes out. You’re not going to have one person replace 25 points. You’re not going to just have one person replace Andre’s defense.”

Roberson is out for the rest of the 2018 season after he suffered a ruptured left patellar tendon Saturday evening during a win over the Detroit Pistons. The injury came in the third quarter when he tried to go up for an alley up and his knee buckled.

After laying on the floor for several agonizing minutes, Roberson was taken off the floor on a stretcher. It wasn’t long afterward that word came on how serious the injury was.

Roberson underwent a successful procedure today to repair a ruptured left patellar tendon, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Carlan Yates of the McBride Orthopedic Hospital in Oklahoma City.

In 39 games this season Roberson is averaging 5.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.15 steals in 26.6 minutes.

But, according to his teammates, the numbers do not tell the real story of Roberson’s impact on the team.

“He’s a huge part of our team and why we win. It’s a huge blow to us. We’re just going to have to rely on some other players to step up,” Thunder center Steven Adams said. “You’re dealing with a very talented individual. Anyone goes down here, you can’t replace them.”

Carmelo Anthony also acknowledged replacing Roberson has to be a group effort.

“We never want to play games without him,” Oklahoma City forward Carmelo Anthony said. “Now it’s back to guys stepping up and whoever is called to be in that position has to be ready. We do have something good going for us right now. Whoever steps into that place has to be ready to perform.”

Rookie Terrance Ferguson was inserted into Roberson’s off-guard spot Sunday when Oklahoma City hosted the Philadelphia 76ers. He is averaging 3.2 ppg this season.

When Roberson missed games earlier this month, it was Ferguson who got the start in his place. But Donovan said this doesn’t mean it’s Ferguson’s spot permanently.

“I think Terrance has a really good awareness of himself,” Donovan said. “He doesn’t really try to do too much that is out of his realm. He needs to really lock in defensively. He’s going to try and do whatever he can to help our team. I don’t view it as Terrance’s spot. We’ve got to look at what’s best for the team.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Westbrook having a major impact on PG13

(Photo provided by TorreyPurvey.com)

By Michael Kinney

Oklahoma City forward Paul George created quite a stir Wednesday when he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that his decision on free agency was becoming “easier” because of the friendship and bond he has created with Russell Westbrook.

George continued to lavish his teammate with compliments Thursday.

“Being alongside Russ, he is a team-first guy. He’s a really good dude,” George said. “And it’s great to be around guys like that. Not only that, but work hard, extremely hard. Make it easier for me to put the work in. Makes it fun to put the work in. And just somebody you can enjoy this process with. That’s what makes it attractive being here and playing alongside Russ.”

When Westbrook was asked about George’s sentiments, the reigning MVP expounded on why hearing that is important to him.

“Like I said before, many times, around here my job is to make sure I lead. It’s not about basketball. It’s not about what you do on the court. It’s about how you interact with your teammates, being brothers off the floor. That’s the most important thing to me is to gain a relationship with people.”

What created this public bro fest began when Westbrook voiced his displeasure in George not being named to the all-star team. George said that meant a lot to him.

“We were actually joking before he went up there, and I’m like, ‘Nah, Russ, man, just let it go, let it go Russ,” George explained to Nichols. “It is what it is, I wasn’t picked,’ and he was like, ‘Nah, man, P, that’s messed up. I’m gonna tell them something about that. “It was awesome for a teammate to have your back and to stand up… But the fact Russ had my back, that’s my guy forever, and it’s more apparent what this decision needs to be made when it comes down to it.”

Sticking up for his teammates is one of the jobs Westbrook takes seriously as the lead of the Thunder. But that is not the only reason he came to the defense of George, who has only been with the organization a few months.

“Basketball stuff that will come. That’s short term. But brotherhood and friends, stuff like that is lifetime,” Westbrook said. “And for me, I constantly keep trying to find ways to learn different things about people, learn about their families, learn about their struggles. With their journey, everybody has a different outlook on different things. You’re able to create those different relationships by obviously being on the same team and understanding each other.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

Sooners defend home-court in KU upset

 

BY Michael Kinney

NORMAN – The day Trae Young sat in in a classroom at Norman North last year and announced he was going to Oklahoma, it was for nights like Tuesday.

No. 5 Kansas rolling into Norman to take on the 12th ranked Sooners in front of a packed house at Lloyd Noble Center was something Young had envisioned growing up.

It finally came to fruition for Young Tuesday night. With a national audience watching, he led the Sooners to an 85-80 upset over the Jayhawks. His performance left KU coach Bill Self with nothing but rave reviews of the kid he once recruited.

“Kid played great,” Self said. “I mean he got 26 points on nine shots. That’s very impressive for a guard, and he was very under control and seemed to make the vast majority of the right plays for his team.”

While many expected Young to come in and hoist up 40 shots like he came close to doing in a loss to Oklahoma State Saturday. But the freshman sensation showed trusts his teammates, especially in crunch time.

With 2:13 left in the game, Young drained a pair of free throws to cut the Kansas lead down to 80-79. For the second time, OU intentionally fouled KU forward Udoka Azubulke. He missed both free throws and the Sooners got the rebound. He finished the night 1 of 7 from the stripe.

However, Young tried to get the ball to Khadeem Lattin under the basket, but it went off his hands and out of bounds.

After the Jayhawks Devonte’ Graham missed a 3-pointer, Young calmly drove into the lane and dished it out to Christian James, who was standing in the corner. He drilled the 3-pointer to put Oklahoma up 82-80.

Kansas came up empty again on the next possession and the Sooners got the ball and called a timeout with 35 seconds remaining.

After the timeout, Manek took a pass from Young and drilled a 3-pointer to give the Sooners a five-point advantage. That was enough to hold on and claim the win.

“It’s in Trae’s hands to make a read and decision and create,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We did that all night, really. He made a good play to find Christian and Christian jumped in there and knocked it down. Brady did the same thing on the next possession. Two big shots.”

Young led all scorers with 26 points to go along with 9 assists.

“The way I played at OSU, I was overly aggressive at OSU,” Young said. “I think tonight, I managed the game a lot better. I got back to the way I was playing before last week and even before K-State. I managed the game a lot better and teammates did a great job of making plays, too.”

It was a slow start for the Sooners on offense. In the first 10 minutes of the first half, they shot only 36 percent from the field and were 1 of 4 from 3 point range.

The only thing that saved them is that the Jayhawks were just as inefficient. While they hovered around the 50 percent mark, it only translated to a 19-16 advantage.

One of the reasons Oklahoma was slow out of the gates was the defense Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham. He hounded Young where ever he went and ushered him into double teams when he tried to turn the corner and get into the lane.

However, this did allow other Sooners to get their offense going. James and Manek, The two combined for 20 points in the first half as Oklahoma held a 43-41 advantage at halftime.

Kansas tipped off the second half with a 14-4 run. Oklahoma settled down after a driving layup and 3-pointer from Young.

However, the Sooners had no answer for Svi Myhailiuk. After being held to 11 points in the first half, he exploded for 14 in a 12-minute span in the second.

Despite that, with 5 minutes left in the game, the Sooners found themselves down only 76-74.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

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