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Berry Tramel: Thunder needs a little variety at game's end

by Berry Tramel Published: March 6, 2011

The Thunder beat the Suns 122-118 in overtime Sunday night. No thanks to another exasperating last-possession play, Kevin Durant's 20-foot pull-up jumper that clanged off the rim and sent us all to overtime.

Not to be picky, Scotty Brooks — the Thunder is not that far removed from a 23-win season — but any chance we can see a little variety in the final possession of close games?

A Russell Westbrook or James Harden drive? Durant curling off a screen? A pick'n pop with Serge Ibaka? Heck, Thabo Sefolosha from the corner. Anything but another Durant drive on the wing, usually against a ferocious defender who forces Durant wide and no closer to the basket.

“I feel like I got a good look at it,” Durant said. “I'd take that shot nine times out of 10. That's a shot I work on in practice.”

With Grant Hill's 38 years of whiskers draped all over you?

“He still got the ball and got a shot off,” said Hill, “Guys like him, good defense is not going to affect him. If I was really good, I would have denied him the ball.”

Don't believe it. Hill's defense allowed Durant to go nowhere near scoring position. Durant's shot was a prayer, and it's only his amazing ability that allowed it to have a chance.

In all fairness, Durant nailed much that same shot against the Knickerbockers a couple of months back. But for the most part, the Thunder's addiction to a Durant drive isn't working in the final 10 seconds of games. We've seen it repeatedly over this season.

Brooks called the shot “decent. Wasn't great.” He called a set play which ended up with Durant in a one-on-one isolation against Hill, far from the hoop.

Brooks also called the situation one of the toughest plays in the NBA. He noticed the ABC graphic during the Heat-Bulls game Sunday that showed the lack of last-possession success.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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