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Oklahoma City Thunder: Can Kevin Martin end his road struggles Thursday against the Knicks?

KEVIN MARTIN — The Thunder's sixth man is a different man at home and on the road, and if not for the support of teammates it would really be wearing on him. Martin's next chance to reverse that trend comes Thursday in New York.
BY JOHN ROHDE Published: March 6, 2013

Martin's facial expression made it easy to discern his words were heartfelt, that perhaps he never had received such meaningful support in his nine NBA seasons.

Four-time All-Star Kevin Durant confirmed he was one of the players who spoke to Martin.

“Yeah, I always wrap my arm around him and just let him know that we're always going to need him,” Durant said. “He's going to always hit a big shot. (We) always believe in him. I'm not going to stop passing him the ball because he missed five or six shots because I know he wouldn't do that to me.

“I'm always going to believe in him, no matter if he's 0 for 10 at the time or 10 for 10. We just let him know that we know he's going to get it back. We know he's going to make the next shot and everybody in this organization believes in him, and that goes a long way.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said providing teammates with confidence “is what good teams do.”

“Good teams don't just turn their back on their teammate,” Brooks explained. “You have to be real with them. ‘Hey, you're struggling right now. We're going to find some better shots, some good shots, some easy shots that you can make.' ”

Martin's success rate depends on the area code (see chart). He averages almost four more points while shooting nearly eight percent better from the field and 15 percent better from 3-point range.

When the Thunder wins, Martin has averaged 15.4 points and shot 45.3 percent from the field.

When the Thunder loses, he has averaged 11.9 points and shot 42.2 percent from the floor.

Martin's scoring average is the lowest since his second season with the Sacramento Kings in 2005-06. Thereafter, Martin has averaged 20-plus points in five seasons and had been his team's leading scorer six straight years prior to coming to the Thunder five days before its 2012-13 season opener.

While Harden was a near-unanimous choice as last season's NBA Sixth Man of the Year, this season marks Martin's first full-time foray into the same reserve role. The 30-year-old Martin now plays third scoring fiddle to a pair of 24-year-olds in Durant (28.6 ppg) and Russell Westbrook (23.6).

“He's had to make a huge adjustment,” Durant said. “To come off the bench as the sixth man to a bunch of younger guys, that's an adjustment. He's not pouting. He's not upset he's not shooting a lot, or not getting a lot of plays called for him. He's just going out there and doing his job and he's trying to play as hard as he can. You've got to commend him for that.”

Thunder at Knicks

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York

TV: TNT (Cox 31/HD 730, DirecTV 245, Dish 138, U-Verse 108/HD 1108)

Radio: WWLS-FM 98.1, WWLS-AM 640

Three things to know

* While the Thunder was in New York City on Wednesday night resting for the game, the Knicks played at Detroit.

* Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is day-to-day with a sore knee. He and Kevin Durant are 1-2 for the scoring title.

* This is the first meeting between OKC and New York. The second will be April 7 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.


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