OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook believes what Thunder play-by-play announcer Brian Davis said on Wednesday’s broadcast “wasn’t OK.”
“Brian has been here for a while. What he said wasn’t OK. We all understand that,” Westbrook said. “But he definitely came in and talked to us. The team has made the decision to do what they need to do. We just have to move on from it.”
Davis met with Thunder players Friday to apologize for an on-air remark made during a 137-123 win over the Grizzlies, referring to Westbrook as “out of his cotton pickin’ mind.” The team announced Friday it will suspend its longtime announcer for Game 1 of Oklahoma City’s first-round playoff series against Utah.
Thunder Vice President of Broadcasting Dan Mahoney told The Transcript on Thursday that Davis' language was "offensive and inappropriate."
“He just addressed the situation. That was it. He addressed the situation,” Paul George said of Friday’s meeting with Davis. “That’s not where our focus is right now. It happened. He owned up. He took it head on. That’s for the front office and him to discuss. They did, so we move on.”
Usual radio play-by-play announcer Matt Pinto will fill in for Davis next to in-game analyst Michael Cage on the FOX Sports Oklahoma broadcast, which will simulcast on radio.
• Funky shots: Utah center Rudy Gobert is the frontrunner to win Defensive Player of the Year, and his effect on Westbrook has been particularly interesting.
Though Gobert is the NBA’s top rim-protector, he hasn’t actually changed the Jazz opposition’s shot selection all that much. Utah plays the same type of coverages whether it’s Gobert or Derrick Favors, who starts at power forward and sometimes plays the 5 spot with the second unit, or second-string center Ekpe Udoh on the back ends of pick-and-rolls. Still, the numbers say that guys around the league aren’t seeing Gobert at the rim and pulling up any more than they do when Favors, also a solid defender, is at center.
Utah opponents shoot 38 percent of their field-goals attempts in the paint when Gobert is on the floor. The ratio is exactly the same when he’s off. They shoot 16 percent of shots from mid-range when Gobert is on. And that ratio is exactly the same when he’s off, too. It’s nearly identical from the 3-point line, as well: 11 percent of field-goal attempts are corner 3s when Gobert is on compared to 10 percent when he’s off.
Yet, Westbrook hasn't followed that trend. The Thunder star doesn’t go to the rim nearly as much when Gobert is on the floor, averaging only 4.6 attempts in the restricted area per 36 minutes over the past two seasons. For perspective, Westbrook is averaging 8.0 shots at the rim per 36 minutes against everyone else during that span.
• Getting cheeky: Westbrook ended practice Saturday with a friendly game of one-on-one against Thunder assistant and recent Hall of Fame inductee Maurice Cheeks.
Westbrook let the world know who emerged victorious.
“He’s still got it. He can move a little bit,” Westbrook said. “But I still kicked his [butt].”
• Injury updates: Thunder shooting guards Alex Abrines (concussion) and Corey Brewer (right knee sprain) both sat out Saturday’s practice, though each “did more” than on Friday, coach Billy Donovan told reporters. Brewer went through light contact. Abrines did not go through contact.
The team has not provided a Game 1 status for either player. The Thunder will not shoot around Sunday morning because of the early, 5:30 p.m. start time. So, they will likely not announce a status until closer to tip-off.
Brewer suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s win over Memphis. Abrines got hurt during the second quarter of Monday’s victory in Miami.
Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the postgame show, Thunder After Dark, and the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.