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Oklahoma City is seeing how valuable Russell Westbrook really was to this Thunder team

The Thunder-Rocket series is proving two things, at least on the Oklahoma City side. How good Kevin Durant is. And how good Russell Westbrook is.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 2, 2013

“Bad combination when one team makes threes and another doesn't,” said Scotty Brooks, who now coaches a team that is in danger of the NBA's greatest collapse.

Without Westbrook, the Thunder has had three straight games with little offensive flow, except for Durant magic.

The Thunder is playing like a football team trying to win with a second-team quarterback. Everything out of sync.

And that's no indictment of Reggie Jackson, the point guard who replaced Westbrook in the lineup. Jackson has played reasonably well and had 20 points Wednesday night.

Nothing about this offense looks like it did when Westbrook had the reins. Everything is a struggle.

“Tonight, we were moving, we were cutting, but we started missing shots, it messed with us,” Durant said. “We're going to have wide open shots. We gotta knock ‘em down. We'll be fine.”

If you want some good news, Durant looks fine. He showed frustration on the court in the fourth quarter, but he seemed composed and confident in the post-game.

“I have to be better as a leader, leading our guys, getting them going,” Durant said.

I hope he doesn't really feel that way. That's just more responsibility put on shoulders that have got to start sagging soon.

But clearly, the Thunder isn't winning again without a herculean game from Durant, who is coming close. In some ways, these last three games have been his finest as a Thunder. Great, great and great.

Alas, these three games also have proved, too, how great is Westbrook.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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