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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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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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