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News » Injuries costly for OKC


Injuries costly for OKC


Injuries costly for OKC
NEW ORLEANS - When the final horn sounded in the Thunder's 108-90 loss to New Orleans on Saturday night, it wasn't Oklahoma City's rash of injuries that doomed the Thunder or even the Hornets' All-Star duo of Chris Paul and David West.

What rocked the Thunder late in Saturday's game and ultimately snapped its three-game winning streak was a second-year forward named Julian Wright, a seldom-used role player for the playoff-bound Hornets.

Wright matched his career high with 20 points and added seven rebounds and four assists while starting in place of the injured Peja Stojakovic. His hustle on both ends sparked a 21-7 Hornets run to start the fourth quarter and spoiled what had been a noble effort through three periods by a injury-ravaged Thunder squad.

"I knew going into this game that we were going to have to play pretty flawless Basketball for 48 minutes," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "We did a good job for three quarters. But in the fourth quarter they made some big shots and we turned it over a few times. But I'm proud of our guys' effort.

"Our effort was good. That's the only thing that we're basing our game on, how hard we play and I thought the guys played hard."

The Thunder entered the fourth period trailing by only four despite playing without injured forwards Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Thabo Sefolosha. New Orleans outscored Oklahoma City 32-18 in the period, led by Wright's eight points, three rebounds, two assists one steal and one game-changing blocked shot.

A turnover by James Posey led to a two-on-one fast break for the Thunder, and Wright trailed Earl Watson and Russell Westbrook on the play. He stripped Watson of the ball from behind then blocked a layup attempt by Westbrook after the ball landed in his hands. Wright then saved the ball from going out of bounds and feed Posey in the left corner for a 3-pointer that put the Hornets up 89-75 with 7:24 remaining.

"It gave them a little momentum," Westbrook said of the sequence. "They started getting a couple of lobs and it was tough from there."

The Thunder figured Saturday's game would be a difficult test against the surging Hornets, who have won seven straight and have an MVP candidate in Paul. But the Thunder was unsuccessful in its goal of limiting the effectiveness of the Hornets' role players.

Paul scored a team-high 21 points with 13 assists, six rebounds and six steals. West had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. But Wright, who entered the game averaging just 2.8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.6 assists, was the unexpected assassin.

"He played well," said Damien Wilkins, who started in place of Sefolosha.

76ers at Thunder

→When: 6 tonight

→Where: Ford Center

→TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37)

→Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640, Sirius 218, XM 234

→Live blog: http://www.newsok.com/sports/Thunder

Three things to know

→Philadelphia romped to a 110-85 win over OKC but that was on Nov. 15, a week before P.J. Carlesimo was fired.

→The Sixers are 10th in the league in points allowed (96.0). Philly is 4-15 when its opponent scores 100.

→Philadelphia is 26th in free throw percentage (74.4) while the Thunder has vaulted to 12th after shooting 84.3 percent the past two months.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 11, 2009

 

 
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