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Thunder: Billy Donovan ahead of curve on coach's challenges

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Not all NBA coaches have embraced their newly granted power of coach’s challenges. Toronto coach Nick Nurse jokingly hugged his assistants when he won his first challenge earlier this week. 

It’s no small feat. 

Entering play Friday, only 36 percent of coach’s challenges had been successful. 

But Thunder coach Billy Donovan is on a hot streak. Donovan won a challenge Tuesday at Indiana, and another Friday night. Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris lost control of the ball when he drove into the lane during a fourth quarter play, but officials ruled a Thunder player touched the ball prior to it going out of bounds. 

Donovan challenged, and the call was overturned. 

The coach’s challenge was implemented before the season on a one-year trial basis. Coaches can challenge one call per game in the following situations: a called foul, a called out-of-bounds violation or a called goaltending or basket interference violation. 

Out-of-bounds challenges have the highest success rate of being overturned (58 percent). Fouls are only reversed 33 percent of the time. 

Donovan has challenged three calls in 12 games. He won two of them. 

“You’re always gonna look and second guess the challenge because I don’t think there’s any set pattern or routine that you should sit there and say, ‘OK, this is what we should challenge,’” Donovan said Thursday. “It’s gonna be something we’ve all gotta get used to. I think you’ve got to be challenging to try to save points or add points, so to speak.” 

Related Photos
Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan coaches during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena,   Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019.  [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan coaches during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-7c4ec79b627fb62968d633c58ffa88c6.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan coaches during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] " title="Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan coaches during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption>Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan coaches during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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