ORLANDO- Sure, the Oklahoma City Thunder ran out of gas in overtime against the Denver Nuggets.
Yes, the Thunder need every victory possible to claw as high up the standings as they can.
But all was not lost.
Though he only played for about nine and a half minutes, Andre Roberson returned to a familiar role: crunch time defender.
Returning to an NBA floor for the first time in 909 days, Roberson was the feel-good story of the Thunder’s three scrimmages.
However, his progress didn’t immediately translate to minutes once the seeding games tipped off. In Oklahoma City’s 110-94 drubbing of the Utah Jazz, Roberson logged just five minutes and 12 seconds.
Against the Nuggets, a familiar scene played out for Thunder fans.
With 23 seconds remaining, Oklahoma City led by one. Needing a stop, who else but Roberson checked in for Danilo Gallinari.Ultimately Roberson was whistled for contesting Monte Morris’ shot at the rim, but Roberson was there to make the play in crunch time.
Say what you want about Troy Daniels taking the last shot, but great defense by Roberson to send it to OT. pic.twitter.com/ZMdx30Qabi
— Ryan Chapman (@RadiosRyan) August 4, 2020
Again with just two seconds left, Donovan called upon the athletic wing and this time Roberson rose to the occasion, stunting Troy Daniels’ drive to send the game to overtime.
Time will tell what Roberson’s impact is for Oklahoma City. He is by no means guaranteed a huge roll in the rotation- even with the absence of Dennis Schröder.
Nobody expects Roberson to shoot 75 percent from deep like he did in the scrimmages (he is 0-3 from the field in the two seeding games).
It’s not out of the question for Roberson to continue to thrive in a role he’s become accustomed to over his career though.
When the lights are brightest, Donovan is not afraid to turn to Roberson to put the clamps on opponents for a possession.
Versatility is hardly ever a bad thing, and the return of Roberson just gives the Co-Coach of the Year another look to tinker with.
Oklahoma City hits takes the court again on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, presenting another chance for Roberson to take center stage against the lengthy backcourt.