The OKC Thunder scrimmage win versus the 76ers was followed by a media session featuring Billy Donovan, Chris Paul, and Andre Roberson.
It was a scrimmage where the OKC Thunder struggled to find their shot. This was especially true of the starters and Dennis Shroder particularly in the first half of the match.
The Thunder trailed by as much as 24 points but the reserve unit and Andre Roberson stepped up for the victory proving even in the scrimmage setting this team loves to win in the clutch.
At one point OKC missed 17 perimeter attempts in a row. Darius Bazley broke the seal on the 3-point basket and the team followed his lead with Roberson’s two daggers capping the comeback.
As per usual the coach and select players spoke postgame with Chris Paul and Andre Roberson on tap for this session.
OKC Thunder post 76ers scrimmage media session
Following the comeback victory coach, Billy Donovan met with the media although it was one of his shorter sessions.
On his impressions of the group who fought back to capture the win:
“It speaks to our guys. We’ve kind been that way all year long. Like when we get down our guys don’t pout or complain. —They’re always of the mindset to battle and fight.— Those guys really stepped up. I was really happy for Andre., made two big 3’s”
He noted he wasn’t overly impressed with Bazley or Hamidou Diallo’s production versus the Celtics but was happy with how they bounced back Sunday. As for Bazley specifically, he loved his aggressiveness noting he made decisive decisions, and that was important even when the decisions may not be the best he’d prefer him to be decisive. On Sunday they resulted in a couple of big makes. Plus he was happy with his motor and energy.
Donovan also singled out how professional Mike Muscala is to sit for three and half quarters and then come in and deliver.
The main point Donovan noted about the team’s first-half malaise was OKC simply wasn’t making their shots. Donovan cited the difference between the teams from the perimeter was 3 to 10 at the half.
The coach also felt OKC didn’t drive enough or get to the line and that combination he felt was why the team fell behind by so much.
The Thunder captain was impressed by the reserve unit for playing to the team’s identity fighting back to capture the win. CP3 noted this team doesn’t care what the situation is they’re going to fight hard. He spoke about the comeback and in particular, Andre Roberson’s two huge 3-pointers that sealed the victory.
“Big-time, man, big time. Like I said, all the stuff Dre’s been through, then to hit them two big shots and a lot of times people always looked at Dre as a stopper or defender and stuff like that. This league is all about confidence and to see the work that he’s put in, you know we got the ultimate confidence in him. He and DB to hit those shots (Bazley) that was big”
This game drew some of the heavy hitter National scribes including Chris Haynes and Mark Stein who asked Paul questions related more to his role as NBPA president.
Chris Haynes asked if the players are working on something collectively in terms of how they’ll handle actions specifically with the anthem. CP3 noted there are ongoing talks (that he’s not always involved in) but that everyone is committed to keeping the message of social justice and black empowerment front and center.
Mark Stein asked about his ’emotional’ comment when he saw the bubble that was featured on the ESPN restart special. Paul clarified that was only a small portion of what he said and that he was speaking to what all the work everyone put into making the bubble a reality. In addition, Paul is most proud of is the $300 million the board is committing to social justice issues and that the players will determine how those funds are spent.
Paul also spoke of working in concert with the WNBA and confirmed the NBPA and WNPA were meeting to discuss initiatives on voting and that Michele Obama would appear as a guest (virtually) to discuss the two league’s efforts in terms of pushing voting initiatives.
Finally, Paul was asked for his thoughts on Andre Roberson specifically regarding his defense and finishing with a plus 29.
“Dre was plus 29 tonight? That’s tough, that’s real tough — I’ve played against Dre a lot of times and it even surprised me when we got back into camp and into working out to see how he was moving and stuff you know. Unfortunately, I’ve also had injuries, not one that put me out as long as Dre’s been out. But one of the biggest things you fight is confidence, confidence in the way you move.
It’s scary when you know you can do something but your body won’t let you. I think I’m just happy to see him moving and gaining that confidence game-by-game. “You talk about somebody who’s genuine and sincere and is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, it’s Andre Roberson and so if anybody deserves the chance it’s him.”
The hero of the night was Andre Roberson who arrived on the set sporting a wide grin that was unmistakable even with his PPE mask on.
Roberson said he was much more relaxed having shed the butterflies and nerves after his first outing versus the Celtics.
Brady Trantham asked about Enes Kanter (from the Friday match) and if opponents are recognizing his efforts to come back. He noted Enes and Steven from the days the three played calling Kanter one of his brothers who told Dre how happy he was for him. He also noted Alec Burks was one of his good friends from his college days.
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As per typical the beloved ARob was all about the team and refused to take any credit saying everyone was responsible for the comeback even giving the bench credit for cheering them on.
Every franchise should be so lucky to have a player of Roberson’s ilk on their squad as it’s these types of players who truly make an impact on team chemistry and camaraderie.
Asked what he was thinking when he hit the two dagger 3-pointers he responded ‘
Win, honestly, just win. Just go out there and show what I got. I’m going to go out there and just try to find what the game needs at the moment and then just go out there and do it.’
The OKC Thunder will finish the scrimmage matches on Tuesday when they play the Portland Trail Blazers at 4:00 p.m. CT.