Former University of Kentucky standout DeAndre Liggins made the first start of his NBA career and had 11 points and nine rebounds, both career-highs, in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 87-83 victory Sunday night against the host Portland Trail Blazers.
Liggins, subbing for injured starter Thabo Sefolosha, was 3-for-3 from three-point range. He also had two assists and a steal in just under 40 minutes of play.
Asked what his goal was as a starter, Liggins told The Oklahoman newspaper: It's pretty simple -- defend as hard as I could and find some open shots. My job is to come in and play as hard as I could. The thing about me is I know my role. I know what I have to do to help this team win.
Liggins played 23 seconds longer than Thunder star Kevin Durant. He deserved it, Durant told The Oklahoman.
He wasn't coming out, Thunder Coach Scott Brooks said of Liggins. We needed his energy tonight. He showed that in training camp that he can make an impact.
Liggins told the newspaper that Sunday was his greatest moment as a pro.
It's a blessing, he said. I played well today, but my thing is to get better every day and try to learn. I've still got a long way to go, working on my shooting. It's getting better, but it could be a lot better.
Did Liggins battle nerves?
A little bit, but that's part of the game, Liggins told The Oklahoman. If you're not nervous, I mean, that's normal. With my competitiveness, it goes away quick.
The status of Sefolosha for Monday night's game at Phoenix was uncertain. Sefolosha has a neck injury.