The end of the bench can be a lonely place.
Thunder guard Anthony Morrow has grown as a leader and as a player on the bench.
After playing 1,806 minutes in the 2014-15 season, Morrow managed just 926 last season. Morrow’s shooting percentage dropped from 46.3 percent to 40.8 percent. His 3-point percentage fell from 43.3 percent to 38.7 percent.
To start this season, Morrow remained on the bench as Thunder coach Billy Donovan would bring in Kyle Singler or Alex Abrines.
After a 111-109 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, a game that Morrow played only nine minutes, Donovan wanted to see a spark come off the bench.
Henceforth, against Sacramento on Wednesday, Morrow played 19 minutes and scored eight points on 2-of-8 shooting, including 1-of-2 from three. It was his first make from downtown on the season and his highest minute total of the season so far.
Friday night in Denver, Morrow was again the first player off the bench for Donovan. Morrow scored 10 points in 22 minutes and helped the Thunder snap a three-game losing streak with a 132-129 overtime victory. Morrow made both of his three-point attempts and was 4-of-8 from the field.
The Thunder played the Pistons on Saturday night in Oklahoma City. They were also on the second night of a back-to-back, but Detroit couldn’t stop the “Fastest Gun in the West.” Morrow scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-6 from three and 2-of-2 at the free throw line.
Morrow is confident in his offense and he was just waiting for Donovan to call his number.
“When you feel comfortable hitting that 15- to 20-foot jump shot, you can knock that down consistently, now you’ve kinda got them on their toes,” Morrow said. “Over the years, I know I’ve worked a lot on different shots and mid-range shots because I knew people were going to start running me off the line a long time ago.”
Donovan saw something in the offense he didn’t like and saw a possible solution with Morrow. Donovan blamed himself for Morrow missing threes early in the season because of the sporadic minutes.
“I thought it could be something that could inject some energy into our team,” Donovan said. “He has not shot the ball particularly well, but I think thats more of an indication of the way he’s been used because his minutes have been so erratic.”
Morrow’s scoring presence off the bench could help the Thunder prevent stagnant offense with the starters off the floor. Morrow’s defensive energy also impressed Donovan.
“I’ve been really impressed and pleased with the way he’s competed on the defensive end of the floor,” Donovan said.
Morrow is shooting 55.9 percent this season and 30 percent from three. With Morrow’s continued extended playing time, his numbers will continue their upward trend.
Morrow will watch the game closely while he is on the bench. The nine-year NBA veteran will make mental notes of where he should be on offense. Morrow will remember to slide over and help defend the pick-and-roll on defense. Morrow will cheer his teammates after every made basket.
And when Morrow is in the game, he will continue rip the nylon with the swish of another three pointer.Looking for Oklahoma City Thunder tickets? Thunder Digest has you covered at Totallytickets.com! We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!