Found May 02, 2013 on Fox Sports Southwest:
OKLAHOMA CITY Russell Westbrook popped up on the big scoreboard at Chesapeake Energy Arena Wednesday night and promptly got the biggest cheer of the night. The All-Star guard was watching the game from a suite, bum knee and all, but it looked like it was the rest of the guys on the court who were the ones hurting. Undoubtedly, the Thunder miss him. It's shown in the past two games as the eighth-seeded Rockets have won a pair in a row and now are back in Houston Friday night for a Game 6. But what hasn't become obvious is the simple fact this team is good enough to not only beat past this Rockets team that is only semi-interested in defense, but good enough to get back to the Finals. Yeah. This year. Yeah. Without Westbrook. Yet, here the Thunder are treading, but taking on water. The sanctuary of a 3-2 lead is comforting as is the fall-back position of knowing there is a Game 7 back in Oklahoma City Sunday just in case, but it should never get that far. "One of the things we take pride in is figuring out ways to put ourselves in position to win," coach Scott Brooks said. Last night's game got away from us, but hopefully that was our bad game." It was bad, but the Thunder only need to be mildly better to move on. Not an overhaul, just a combination of not fouling on defense and finding a warm body on offense. The Thunder did neither Wednesday against Houston in the 107-100 loss, deciding to essentially give up on defense, by fouling Omar Asik for a 5-minute stretch of the fourth of the quarter, instead of trying to stop open 3-pointers. "We weren't playing good defense," Brooks said. "No question. We wanted to change the ry and the complexion of how they were playing." And instead of trying to change what his team was doing, the Thunder started fouling. It didn't work. Asik made 11-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter. Combine that with the fact that offensively, Durant was alone. He got very little help, so when he went scoreless in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City went stagnant. Brooks said the fix is as easy and simple as "Just playing better," a phrase he uses liberally, like an unimaginative cook with salt and pepper, sprinkling it in with no real purpose or direction other than someone said it's necessary. So, how does this team play better in Game 6? Easy. Take Kevin Martin and start him. Take Nick Collison and play him. Take Kendrick Perkins and bench him and take Serge Ibaka and praise him. Do any amount of the above and it's enough. Martin has been beyond dreadful in the series, highlighted by a 1-for-10, three-point showing Wednesday, so while it's hard to say he needs to shoot more, it might be the only option. Change things up by starting for the first time this season. Get him the ball often. Get him some confidence early, like Durant suggested late Wednesday night. The better Martin plays the better it will be for Durant. Martin, like Durant and Reggie Jackson, can create his own shot. Tell him to get to work on it. Then there's the case of Collison. He provided a necessary contribution in the first half, going for six points, two rebounds and two blocks in 6 minutes. In the second half, Collison didn't play. When asked if he felt like Collison should have played more, Brooks responded with, "I wish we would have gotten more stops." But that wasn't a possibility either as Brooks decided against playing defense, choosing to foul instead. Perkins isn't a fit for this series and the smaller, guard-oriented Rockets, so playing the quicker Collison seems to make sense. Meanwhile, Ibaka had 14 points and nine rebounds Wednesday but managed just five rebounds and eight shots in Game 4. He has to be counted on, not to carry the team, but to just show up. Someone. Anyone get more offensive minded and contribute with some regularity and this team makes it back to the Finals. "If I could pinpoint one guy making a mistake, we'd have to do something about it," Brooks said. "It was five guys. We started the game and made seven mistakes in eight possessions. I wasn't going to take all five guys out. Maybe I should have. Maybe that's the next thing. I'm joking on that one." Not really funny, though. Oklahoma City was bad on offense Wednesday, yeah, but it was worse on defense, allowing a 37-point third quarter from Houston when the Rockets shot 70 percent from the field. "We just have to play better," said Brooks, going with the old standby line. "We have to play tough-minded, defensive basketball. The defensive things we have to clean up. When you give open 3s and mistake 3s to a good shooting team you're going to have a tough night. We did that too many times." And too many times Durant was trying to do it all. He shouldn't have to. "We know we have to play better," Brooks said. "We also know we're up 3-2. Our focus is on re-grouping and figuring out some of things that we can improve on and do it for 48 minutes." It's a simple fix. Get some help for Durant and show up on defense. Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter @theandrewgilman

Derek Fisher and Kevin Martin Pull off the Very Rare Double Flop (Video)

Derek Fisher as a player is known for his ability to knock down big shots, maneuver out of contracts, and flopping. And it would appear that he has taken his Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Martin under his wing, because they pulled off a very rare and well synchronized double flop during Game 5 of their first round playoff match up against the Houston Rockets last night. Check...

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Synchronized Flopping Makes Its NBA Debut

The only thing more shameful than Scott Brooks’ desperate Hack-Asik strategy during Houston’s 107-100 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday was this tandem flop by defensive black holes Derek Fisher and Kevin Martin. Wait, what’s that? You want the remix? Gladly: Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

Thunder teammates join forces to execute the rarely seen double-flop (video)

Despite the NBA’s best efforts to put the kibosh on the troublesome scourge that flopping has become in its league, during the regular season as well as in the playoffs, practitioners of the dark art continue to come up with new and inventive ways to commit the heinous act. During Wednesday night’s Game 5 showdown between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake...

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CBS Fires Blogger for Calling a Thunder Cheerleader Chunky

Seems like a silly thing to get fired over, but never underestimate the power of social media. Once it went viral the reporter didn’t stand a chance. Ironically. it was a female reporter who came under fire, I think a male reporter would have known the implications of saying such things and would have just avoided the topic. Also, I don’t think men are wired to write stories...

What's going on with Kevin Durant?

Let's call it an "edge" Kevin Durant had in the Houston series. It's not that Durant has ever been soft, but since he entered the NBA, he has been one of the most likable stars in American sports. Something changed, though, in this first-round series against the Houston Rockets. In the series-clinching, 103-94 win Friday in Houston, Durant got a technical foul...

Durant, Martin help Thunder finish series with Rockets

HOUSTON (AP) -- Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Kevin Martin added 25 to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night, sending them to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season. The Rockets were looking to become just the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0. But the Thunder opened...

Why has no NBA team ever come back from a 3-0 deficit? The Knicks and Thunder should not take that for granted.

The 2004 Yankees will tell you how easy it is for a playoff series to get away from you. I vividly remember the cover of the sports section of the NYTimes on the day of game 4 against the Red Sox and there were brooms all over it, as they approached a sweep. Just a few days later, the Yankees were eliminated by their long-time rival, and before they knew it, the curse of the Bambino...

Kevin Durant fires back at Royce White: ‘Who is that?’

Houston D-Leaguer Royce White trash talked Kevin Durant over Twitter, but it doesn't really work if the Thunder star doesn't even know who you are.

Serge Ibaka


Durant Responds To Royce White’s Twitter Trash Talk: “Who Is That?”

Kevin Durant has responded to Royce White’s Twitter taunts, and he did it with a dagger.  Royce watched the Rockets 107-100 win over OKC this past Wednesday night and then took to Twitter to take some unwarranted shots at Durant. #bbpBox_329816397309964288 a { text-decoration:none; color:#256E16; }#bbpBox_329816397309964288 a:hover { text-decoration:underline; }@KDTrey5... Y&...

Kevin Durant on Royce White: “Who is That?”

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Hack and Lose

Fear The Beard I don't mean to overreact to this, because it's just one first round playoff game between two teams that won't likely advance past the second round, due to injuries and inexperience. There's a very real chance that no one will think very much about this later, and that I'm just dealing with the ugly visual of a Game Five loss at home, in a series...

The NBA Playoffs’ All-Injured Team

With the shocking (and disheartening) announcement last week that OKC Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook injured his knee and is out indefinitely, one of the most exciting players in the game joins quite the list of other guys who find themselves on the shelf. Fans and players alike always talk about competing against the [...]
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