Thunder notebook: Russell Westbrook finally heating up

Published: January 17, 2012
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By Darnell Mayberry, Staff writer

After a slow start to the season, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook looks to be returning to his All-Star form of last season.

Over the Thunder's seven-game winning streak, Westbrook is averaging 21.7 points on 49.6 percent shooting. Westbrook also has averaged 4.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists against 2.5 turnovers.

In the first five games of the season, Westbrook averaged just 16 points on 37.5 percent shooting while dishing out 5.2 assists against 5.4 turnovers.

“He didn't start off the season shooting the ball well,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But everybody will go through a shooting slump. Unfortunately for him, he started off with like three or four games like that. But he's in a nice rhythm and a nice flow. I had confidence and this team had confidence that it was going to turn around for him. He's being aggressive and he's playmaking and has been a big part of what we do.”

THUNDER IMPRESSING LEAGUE GM'S

The Thunder organization and its players came in first in a number of categories in NBA.com's 10th annual general manager survey, which was released Tuesday.

Among GM's who responded, 67.9 percent think OKC will win the Western Conference, and 71.4 percent say the Thunder will win the Northwest Division.

A 55.6 percent majority believe Kevin Durant will win this year's MVP award, and Durant tied LeBron James as the player GMs would sign if they could start their franchise with any one player. James Harden garnered 21.4 percent of votes as the most likely player to have a breakout season this year.

The Thunder also had 44.4 percent of responding GMs say it has the best home-court advantage.

JAMES HARDEN'S ROAD STRUGGLES CONTINUE

Harden's season-low five points on 2-for-8 shooting at Boston on Monday continued a disturbing trend that is now in its second season.

The Thunder's sixth man simply hasn't played as well on the road as he has at home.

In seven home games, Harden is averaging 19.1 points on 52.8 percent shooting, including a 38.7 percent clip from behind the 3-point line. But in seven road games, Harden's production dips to 13.9 points on 37.7 percent shooting and a 34.3 percent rate from downtown.

The drop-off extends to Harden's playmaking, too. At home, Harden is averaging 4.3 assists against 1.4 turnovers. On the road, Harden is averaging 2.4 assists against 1.9 turnovers.

Last season, Harden's point differential was a minor 0.2 points at home and on the road. But he shot 47.7 percent at home and only 39.9 percent on the road, while converting 3.7 percent fewer 3-pointers.

REGGIE JACKSON ADJUSTING TO NBA LIFE

Asked what aspect of the NBA has been the toughest to adjust to, rookie guard Reggie Jackson didn't hesitate to point to the lifestyle.

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