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Defenses dare OKC Thunder's role players to beat them

by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 4, 2014

The word is out on how to defend the Thunder.

With guard Russell Westbrook out, defenses are again daring Oklahoma City's role players to beat them.

That's what's taken place in the Thunder's two losses entering Saturday's game at Minnesota, and it's exactly what Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has seen on film.

“Without Westbrook, the other guys have to step up,” Adelman said. “They've always had those two guys, and a couple of years ago three guys they could go to. So it's just a matter of teams are trying to make other people beat them. They have guys who have stepped up in the past, but the last two games, for whatever reason, it hasn't happened.”

Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb are the three biggest remaining offensive weapons. But each one has had difficulty being a consistent threat without Westbrook.

Adelman thinks they'll figure it out.

“They've had experience from in the playoffs when (Westbrook) went down and then this year in the preseason. But then he came back again,” Adelman said. “But I think these guys, they're used to it. They won their first couple and they lost these last two. And they lost going into the fourth quarter with a nice lead. So I think they'll figure it out. They're a quality team and they'll figure it out.”

The Thunder, though, could be reaching a point where Westbrook's injury is starting to take its toll. Unlike most teams, OKC has Kevin Durant to fall back on. But multiple or prolonged injuries, Adelman said, are tough for any team to overcome.

“It depends on the team, and you can get by for a while,” Adelman said. “But over the course of a season it's going to start wearing on you and you start getting two and three (injuries) and it starts getting really difficult for your depth.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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