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Oklahoma City Thunder: Derek Fisher's strong play brings him from afterthought to necessity

by Anthony Slater Published: May 4, 2013

And that number is not a mirage. OKC played far better with Fisher on the court, inspired by his gritty defense and lifted up by his big shots in clutch moments.

“What I saw tonight was some of the most inspiring play I've ever seen in all my playing time and in coaching,” said the typically calm Brooks, who at one point jumped off the bench to give Fisher a wild hug after his steal and assist basically clinched the series win.

“The guy laid everything on the line,” Brooks continued. “He was probably one of the best players in the game. You guys could see it out here.”

Against Memphis, the spotlight shifts toward the paint, where the Grizzlies' behemoth front line (7-foot-1 Marc Gasol and 6-foot-10 Zach Randolph) will demand a majority of OKC's attention.

But backcourt play remains key. And with Russell Westbrook out for the remainder of the playoffs with a torn meniscus, Fisher's on-court role will continue to expand.

That's a thought that may have frightened Thunder fans just a month ago. But Fisher's strong and steady play against the Rockets may have helped put their mind at ease.

“It really makes no sense for me to have to defend Fish,” Brooks said. “It always seems like I have to defend him … But he has made our team better. His common influence is incredible, will to win, and his spirit of doing it every day is something that all teams should strive to play like.”

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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