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Oklahoma City Thunder: Bench woes hurting Thunder

What seemed to be a clear Thunder advantage heading into the series and even more so after a Game 1 mobbing — bench play — has suddenly turned into OKC’s biggest weakness.
by Anthony Slater Modified: April 25, 2014 at 12:19 am •  Published: April 24, 2014

Caron Butler suddenly can’t hit a shot.

Reggie Jackson suddenly has no rhythm.

Beno Udrih suddenly looks like Manu Ginobli, circa 2008.

And what seemed to be a clear Thunder advantage heading into the series and even more so after a Game 1 mobbing — bench play — has suddenly turned into OKC’s biggest weakness.

The Thunder’s reserves are struggling like never before. The Grizzlies bench crew is lighting up the scoreboard. And because of it, Memphis now has a 2-1 series edge in its first round tilt with OKC.

“They’re not going out there trying to miss shots,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t fall.”

That’s been particularly true the past couple games.

On Thursday night, Butler went 0-of-5 shooting, Jackson went 2-of-9 and the Thunder bench was outscored 34-9 by Memphis’ reserves.

That comes on the heels of a Game 2 loss at home – where role players typically play better – when the Thunder bench shot 4-of-16 and was outscored 33-15.

“I can’t speak to anything that’s going on on their team, but a big focus for us is Reggie Jackson,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “We’ve tried to do some things to keep him out of the lane.”

And whatever the strategy, it has worked.

In four regular season games against Memphis, Jackson averaged 15 points and scored in double-figures every time. In these last three games, Jackson is averaging five points on 3-of-19 shooting, failing to hit double-digits even once.

Memphis has completely erased one of the most dynamic sixth men in the league, and it’s had a trickle-down effect. Without its best playmaker making plays, the rest of the reserves are struggling against a Grizzlies team that is daring them to be the difference.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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