THUNDERNOTES: It will take plenty for Donovan to see Ferguson differently

Oklahoma City Thunder's Terrance Ferguson (23) reacts after making a 3-point basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Philadelphia. The Thunder won 117-115. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The case can be made that several members of the Thunder have been advancing their game right before our eyes this season.

The players doing that most at different times this season have included Dennis Schroder, Jerami Grant, even Paul George.

However, right now, that player would appear to be off guard Terrance Ferguson, who’s started pretty much all season, though his offensive game has only blossomed recently.

Fergsuon’s averaging 5.9 points and 0.7 assists, while shooting 41.6 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from 3-point land.

However, in his last seven games, those averages have been 12.6 points, 1 assist, 51.7 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from 3-point land.

Despite that, Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan still sees Ferguson much as he saw him before the season began.

“He’s going to make or miss shots, but we’ve got to have him defensively,” Donovan said. “If he’s making shots the way he has for the last seven games, that’s a bonus for us.”

It’s a pretty big bonus, because none of his teammates are hitting anything close to that percentage from 3-point land over the last seven games.

What will it take for Donovan to see him in a different light? Like, what if Ferguson were to continue at 40 percent or better clip over his next 20 games?

Donovan smiled as he began the answer to the question.

“We’ll probably cross that bridge when we get there,” he said, though he went on to add, “He’s doing a great job for us, he’s making shots, he’s getting good looks. We want that to continue.

“He’s putting the ball on the floor, he’s playing off the dribble, he’s playing more pick and roll. I think his game has evolved from a year ago.”

• Un-OKC first half: The Thunder led the Trail Blazers 62-55 at the half Tuesday, yet the numbers appeared to belong to another team.

Oklahoma City built the lead by hitting 52.4 percent (22 of 42) of its shots, 8 of 14 of its 3-point attempts and 70 percent (10 of 14) of its free throws. The Thunder also grabbed just two offensive rebounds, compared to Portland’s 11.

The Thunder entered the game shooting 45.6 percent, 34.8 percent from 3-point land and 75.6 percent from the free-throw line. OKC also entered grabbing 12.5 offensive boards, while allowing 10.3.

• Iron men: Just two Thunder players have played in every game this season: Patrick Patterson and Jerami Grant. Two others have missed only one: George and Steven Adams.

Patterson, despite missing most of camp last season to a preseason surgery, still managed to play in all 82 games and Tuesday’s was his 154th consecutive game to get on the floor. Grant has missed just three games in his last three seasons.

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