Oklahoma City Thunder: Pro's pro Nick Collison delivers in the nick of time against Clippers

That corner 3-pointer was Nick Collison’s only shot of the game. But he played solid defense on Blake Griffin. Didn’t let the Clipper beast rebound much. Helped the Thunder offense flow with a couple of nifty assists.
by Berry Tramel Modified: May 18, 2014 at 4:41 pm •  Published: May 18, 2014

“He got a couple of buckets on me,” Collison said of Griffin. “I wish I would have made him catch it a little farther out, I could have played him better. But I felt I kept him off the boards, which is a challenge for me, because he’s big and strong and athletic. I thought I did well. I thought I did what I was supposed to do.”

Do what you’re supposed to do. The definition of a professional. The definition of NBA veterans who carve out a niche and make themselves invaluable to their teams, even if the shots and playing time grow more and more rare. The definition of Collison.

Which is how he came to be in the corner. Before this season, Collison had taken 21 career 3-pointers, and that’s over nine years. Very few by design. Just five in the last three seasons. But Collison has been working on his corner 3-pointer. He shot 17 3-pointers this regular season; made just four but kept at it.

“Crazy thing is, Nick has taken 1,000 (practice) shots from the corner, from the 3-point line, and hasn’t had many opportunities this season,” Scotty Brooks said. “I love the fact that we trusted him. We see him work every day. It’s nice that our guys rewarded him with a nice, clean pass and a belief he was going to make that shot.”

Collison said that in past years, he would have set up inside the 3-point line. But getting behind the arc spaces the floor. Spreads the defense. It’s harder to double team Westbrook or Kevin Durant or any of the Thunder’s athletic penetrators. Collison now scoots behind the line and is willing to launch, believing he will make it.

“The big shot was Nick,” said rookie center Steven Adams, who played an amazing 40 minutes and joined forces with Collison as the inside duo in the second half. “Nick kind of got us going. We used that momentum to carry on through the second half. We felt the momentum had changed.”

Collison’s shot changed the game. The Thunder went to the between-quarters huddle energized. The Clippers went to the huddle discouraged. Soon enough, the series was over. Turned by Collison, going from sitting on the bench to standing in the corner.

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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