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Berry Tramel: This was not Scott Brooks' finest hour

OKC THUNDER: Thunder pulls out a win over Minnesota thanks to stars' effort.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 23, 2012

Scotty Brooks tried to give it away.

Tried to give away a game in the name of stubbornness or the Derek Fisher welcome wagon or good old-fashioned mercy on Faith Night at Chesapeake Arena.

But Foreman Scotty's stars wouldn't let him.

Russell Westbrook scored a career-high 45 points, and Kevin Durant hit two monster shots en route to 40 as the Thunder beat the road-weary Minnesota Timberwolves 149-140 in two overtimes.

Despite their coach.

This was not Brooks' finest hour.

Early, he stuck with a big lineup, asking Kendrick Perkins to chase Kevin Love around the perimeter and igniting Love on a 3-point barrage that eventually led to a career-high 51 points.

Late, he stuck with Fisher, who in his second Thunder game played all but one second of the final 26 minutes, 18 seconds. Fisher was not effective; the Thunder wasn't stopping Minnesota, and Fisher missed his first eight shots, including his first four 3-point attempts until a meaningless make with 28 seconds left in the second overtime.

“Had I made a few shots earlier in the game, I wouldn't have gotten so many minutes,” Fisher said, an acceptance of responsibility that confirms the professionalism we're always hearing about. “Had he pulled me, I would have understood.”

Brooks had his reasons for playing Fisher 36 minutes. Daequan Cook is sidelined with a shoulder injury, and Thabo Sefolosha's minutes are being rationed. Brooks said he doesn't want to go over 20 for Sefolosha, who played 19:24 against the 'Wolves.

With Minnesota playing a super-small lineup — smallish point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea, with power forward Love the primary big man — Brooks countered with his own small lineup down the stretch. That meant Westbrook and Fisher.

But when Fisher kept missing, why not Royal Ivey, who has been a spark the last several weeks?

“Yeah, maybe I should have used Ivey some minutes,” Brooks said. “You're caught in that position of, keep staying with him or put a body that's not warm or not loose. But I believe in what he does. I've seen him play.”

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