HOUSTON — Scott Brooks says there’s a reason he sometimes wears glasses to TV interviews.
“I’m trying to look smarter than I am,” joked the Thunder coach.
That said, after playing Kevin Durant for all but 44 seconds of Game 3 on Saturday night against the Rockets, Brooks won’t be foolish enough to wear out his top dog.
Durant will likely have to bump up his scoring a bit in the absence of the injured Russell Westbrook from the lineup. Durant will have to handle the ball more, get the offense started and carry more of the overall burden. But that doesn’t mean he’ll become a marathon man.
“We’ll keep an eye on Kevin’s minutes and not try to just wear him out right down to the floor,” Brooks said. “It worked out that we needed him to play a lot of minutes the other night, but that wasn’t my intention.
“Actually, I wanted to get Kevin out for a rest in the first half for about five or six minutes. But Fish (Derek Fisher) got this third foul and Reggie (Jackson) already had fouls, so I needed Kevin to stay in the game to run the point.
“The other thing you’ve got to remember is that Kevin’s a player, a basketball player, and he just loves to play. You see that every time he steps onto the floor.”
Anyone could see that on Sunday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse on the campus of Rice University, where the Thunder arrived for a light practice and Durant chafed at not being allowed on the court.
“I feel great,” Durant said. “I really want to practice right now, but they told me I can’t.”
The Thunder will try to keep a rein on Durant on off-days and Brooks will try to plan his in-game rests around the TV timeouts that are usually longer during the playoffs. But taking him off the floor through a full timeout with several commercials, Durant can often get five to six minutes of real-time rest while minimizing the time he’s out of the games.
The truth is Durant has been a high-volume player in the five years the Thunder have been in Oklahoma City. The 38.5 minutes per game he averaged in the regular season this year is the lowest since was a rookie in Seattle and Durant still played the second most minutes in the league.
“Ill try to get as much rest as I can and when the game rolls around just press on the gas and get ready to play. Whatever, if he decides to pull me or to keep me in the game, I’m cool with it. I’m just gonna give it my all.”
Oh, to be 24.