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OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook is a man on a mission

Jenni Carlson: The Mavericks haven't been able to find a way to stop the Thunder point guard.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: May 2, 2012 at 10:35 am •  Published: May 1, 2012

The Dallas Mavericks have a problem.

It's not just the 0-2 hole that they are in against the Thunder.

It's also the guy who wears No. 0.

Russell Westbrook is giving the Mavs fits, and it doesn't look like there's anything Dallas can do about it. Doesn't seem to matter who or what the Mavs throw at him.

“He's the guy who's been killing us,” Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki said.

Through the first two games of this Western Conference playoff series, Westbrook is averaging 28.5 points and shooting 52.3 percent. He's getting to the rim. He's hitting midrange jumpers. He's even knocking down that occasional 3-point shot.

Add in the fact that he's playing some lockdown defense when needed, and you've got a guy for whom the Mavs has no answer.

Listen, heading into this series, we knew this was the matchup where the Thunder had the potential to have the biggest advantage. Westbrook is that athletic, that talented, that multidimensional.

But Westbrook struggled during the last month of the regular season. After shooting nearly 50 percent during the month of March, his shooting percentage dipped to 37.8 percent.

It was ugly.

But that slump is now long gone.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks credits Westbrook's daily regimen. He's one of the first guys in the gym before practice working on his shot, and it doesn't matter whether he's coming off a good shooting game or a bad shooting game.

“When you have that kind of consistent approach, I think you can break away from a bad stretch of shooting quicker than if you don't,” Brooks said. “Everybody's going to have a bad stretch. The greatest shooters ever in this game will have a bad stretch here and there.”

Exhibit 1: Kevin Durant.

The Thunder star is struggling mightily in these playoffs, but the boys in blue keep winning because of Westbrook.

He just looks like a man on a mission.

As the series shifts to Dallas for Game 3 and 4, the Mavs are scrambling for answers. They tried a little bit of everything Monday in Game 2.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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