HOUSTON — Nick Collison played just 6½ minutes in the Thunder's 107-100 loss to Houston in Game 5, and here's possibly the biggest reason why he should have been on the court and not on the bench:
Kevin Martin needed him.
Martin is playing only the second postseason in his nine-year NBA career, and not much has gone right. Since a sizzling start after joining the OKC roster on Oct. 27, Martin's season has gotten progressively worse.
Rock bottom came Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where Martin missed his first nine field-goal attempts and finished 1 for 10 from the floor and 0 for 5 from 3-point range, finishing with three measly points in 22:50 of playing time.
So far in the opening-round playoff series against the Rockets, Martin is averaging 11.4 points while shooting 30.4 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.
During the regular season, he averaged 14.0 points while shooting shot 45.0 percent from the floor and 42.6 from 3-point range.
Martin's free-throw percentage also has dipped in the postseason from 89.0 percent (fourth in the league) to 82.4 percent.
Even more insulting, this has transpired against the team from which he was traded along with rookie guard Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft choices and one second-round pick in exchange for James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward.
An unrestricted free agent after this season, Martin's future with the Thunder appears to be on the brink of extinction. Martin is making roughly $12.5 million this season, but his free-agent offers this summer no doubt will plummet because of his poor shooting and even worse timing.
What does all this have to do with Collison?
One aspect of Martin's game that has shown steady progress with the Thunder has been the two-man game between him and Collison, whether it be on pick-and-rolls, backdoor cuts or ball screens.